Wednesday, November 11, 2009
My association with Philadelphia Cinema Alliance has once again brought me into contact with a world famous, critically-acclaimed writer/director- Marco Tullio Giordana. In Italy he is one of the most popular and well-regarded filmmakers of the last thirty years. His films such as, I cento passi (2000) Pasolini, un delitto italiano (1995) and most recently Sanguepazzo (Wild Blood) (2008) are so respected that many Universities in the US teach entire courses on Maestro Giordana's work, both in Cinema Studies and Italian Studies.
One of the characteristics of Giordana's movies is the osmosis, the tight connection between the private history of the characters and History. His movies tell a personal story, but at the same time, they give the viewer a broader picture highlighting the flaws and concerns he sees in his country.
I was very pleased to be in attendance at the reception held at the Consolato Generale d’Italia a Filadelfia on Monday afternoon. The Consulate offices are just my style, stately and historic, located inside the Public Ledger Building in the heart of Philly sight-seeing, Independence Mall West area. An impressive spread of Italian delicacies, antipasti and wines were laid out for us to welcome Maestro Giordana on his first trip to Philadelphia. Now that's what I call a perfect food and film pairing!
Professor Giorgio Galanti (Education/Cultural Office) at the Italian Consulate created this idea of inviting Giordana to Philadelphia for a three night Italian Stories mini film festival (Nov 9-11). Each night, combined one of Giordana's films with one of three brand new documentaries (about Fellini, De Sica and Dino Risi -who are in some sense Giordana's masters).
"We wanted to organize this series not only for our large Italian community, but also for our American friends who are interested in our history and culture." Professor Galanti explained, "In Italian Stories, we wanted to show three stories set in different periods of our history.
Wild Blood, about Fascism and the tragic civil war years 1943-45; One Hundred Steps, about mafia and Sicily from the 50s through the 70s; finally, the beautiful movie Once You are Born You Can No Longer Hide about the problem of illegal immigration of people from Albania, Romania, Northern Africa into Italy, a tragic problem that our country has to deal with every day and for which maybe the Government has not made the right laws..."It's unfortunate I only found out about this series on Monday, my week was already booked, so I could not attend all three evenings, which included a fundraiser at Positano Coast restaurant Wednesday night. I also wasn't able to give advance notice to my readers who may have found this to be of interest. I was however, at the first night's screening -Wild Blood (Sanquepasso). This is Giordano's latest film, which took him 25 years to see its completion. It is the film he says "he should have met the world with".
All screenings were held at the University of the Arts Hamilton Hall. The first night was well-attended, filling the small auditorium. I think I may have been 1 of maybe 5 -10 people who spoke only English.
Wild Blood begins at the end of World War II, when rubble still surrounds the cities of Italy and the distinction of war criminal and war hero are hard to differentiate. Two children find a reel of film in the rubble and start to play with it as we are taken back in time, right before the start of the war. We are introduced to the two main characters, Luisa (Monica Bellucci) and Osvaldo (Luca Zingaretti), who are based on two actual very famous actors of the time, Italy's Brad and Angelina; their tumultuous love story forms the foundation of the film.
The cinematic aspect of the film was important to Giordana, particularly the last scene when we are taken back to those children playing with the film reel, dragging it behind them on a bicycle. He equates that to how easily our memories can be destroyed. It's also why he felt it was important to tell the story from the point of view of the Fascist, because that's the reason that many years later they resurfaced, their memories were erased.
I have to admit to being almost completely lost when it came to the political aspects of the film. I have a vague sense of what fascism is or was, I know it's equated with Nazism, but really a lot of the accusations, persecution and what Luisa and Osvaldo were or were not guilty of was lost on me.
Not so for one audience member who left the auditorium in tears, this heartfelt soul in her eighties had much to say in Italian, the interpreter did not interrupt her, so I don't know all of what she expressed, however, eventually, she shouted in English, "This film should not be shown to anyone over the age of 50" I think what she meant was anyone who actually lived through the war in Italy. The film itself was very tame in terms of brutality, at least compared to a Quentin Tarantino film or the likes.
Giordano sees Luisa and Osvaldo as having been guilty of being two narcissistic, egotistical actors that didn't pay attention to what was going on around them. I felt they were rightly, two narcissistic, egotistical actors, who like many civilians, got forced into dealing with the war the best way they could, but basically were unequipped, uninformed and uninterested in the politics of the time.
In Italy this film was received with some controversy because it shows pity for both sides and this is seen as indifference on the part of the filmmaker. Giordano says this was deliberate, I suppose you could say defiance, as he grew up in a house of Anti-Fascist, both his father and grandfather were apart of the Resistance, therefore, no other view point other than democracy was allowed.
For my view point, I say thank goodness for the steamy sex scenes and that Luisa was a feast for the eyes with her fabulous wardrobe and sensual appeal.