Trento Film Festival 2020
Take-off with a hundred films. Trento Film Festival raises the stakes in this difficult period: film is in the limelight once again in Trento and the province, with a selection of works focusing on man and nature, for the first time also online
The 68th edition of Trento Film Festival promises to be special, not just because of the dates, following the move from its usual slot in spring to 27 August – 2 September, but also due to its hybrid format. For the first time this involves presentation of the extensive film programme not only in the city and other towns in the province (in ways still to be established, on the basis of updates to regulatory provisions) but also with video streaming services throughout Italy.
«When COVID-19 hit Italy”, recalled the programme coordinator Sergio Fant “we were right in the middle of the selection procedure, which should have concluded in the middle of March. Following the postponement and an inevitable moment of discouragement, concluding viewings in total isolation, shut up at home and watching images of the most beautiful and remote places on the planet was even more surreal than usual. However, it reminded us of the power of the images animating our festival, allowing us to travel virtually and with the spirit, overcoming limitations and difficulties with the imagination, and we have certainly needed this in the last few months…».
With the exception of the special closing event, Werner Herzog’s Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, and the feature film Paradise, una nuova vita by Davide Del Degan, both finally coming to cinemas in the autumn, the whole programme will be presented with screenings for the public in Trentino and guests of the festival, and also through streaming services throughout Italy, accessible to all film, mountain and nature enthusiasts.
Every film will be available online for 7 days and a maximum of 500 views.
The platform adopted for the online version of the festival has been developed by the New Zealand streaming services provider Shift72 and the French company Festivalscope, web partners of the main international film festivals and markets, starting with Venice Film Festival, for which it manages the virtual movie theatres. Following the annulment of film events all over the world, Festivalscope and Shift72 have made available a platform designed specifically for online festivals, already adopted by the first European events transferring their activities to the web, such as CPH:DOX in Copenhagen and Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland. Trento festival will be the first event to use this technology in Italy.
«We are very happy to begin working with Trento Film Festival, the oldest film festival in Italy after Venice Film Festival. We hope that this initiative will allow the festival to expand its public and create new opportunities for the distribution of films» said Alessandro Raja, CEO and co-founder of Festivalscope.
However, the festival will not be just online, because at the same time there will also be screenings in the city and around the province, in new venues and in new ways, which will naturally take into account the health and safety regulations in force at the end of August, currently still being established.
«When we decided to organise the online festival”, continued Fant “in order to be ready for any eventuality, it helped us to think that the events would not take place only through streaming services, and that we would do everything possible to ensure the films were also shown on the big screen, reopening cinemas, and rediscovering the public we missed so much at the end of April, and who we like to believe also missed the festival a little».
There are 25 works competing for the Gold and Silver Gentians: 14 full-length films and 11 short films, of which 14 Italian premieres and 2 international premieres, from 16 different countries.
It is inevitable to begin with the masterly Chilean documentary maker Patricio Guzmán, whose moving films focusing on memories and politics were presented in Trento on the occasion of the “Destination… Chile” programme in 2016. Guzmán is competing for the first time with his latest film La Cordillera de los Sueños, a fascinating reflection on the meaning of the Andes for the Chilean identity, recounting the mountain range as an imposing historical metaphor. The film will be distributed in Italy by I Wonder.
We stay in Latin America for two films making their Italian debut: Simón Uribe’s Suspensión from Colombia features a surreal suspended highway, never completed, constructed across isolated slopes and forests, with the native people left to deal with the concrete monster; the Bolivian film Cholitas by Spanish filmmakers Jaime Murciego and Pablo Iraburu is about a group of women who challenge prejudice and the high altitude to take on the ascent of the Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Andes at 6962 metres, wearing the colourful traditional dress of the Aymara population.
Climbing at the highest level is at the centre of a further two full-length films in the competition, both Italian premieres: Dariusz Zaluski’s The Last Mountain about the already legendary Polish 2018 expedition to K2, with the talented Krzysztof Wielicki, Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko, culminating in an operation to rescue the French climber Élisabeth Revol, isolated on nearby Nanga Parbat together with Tomasz Mackiewicz; and Alpinist – Confession of a Cameraman by Minchul Kim and Iljin Lim, an unusually sensitive homage to leading South Korean climbers of recent times, from the privileged point of view of the cameraman who accompanied them on several expeditions, losing his companions one after another.
Films produced or co-produced in Italy include: Sicherheit 123 by Florian Kofler and Julia Gutweniger from Alto Adige, a stunning exploration of the alpine area, depicting the many forms of confrontation between man and the forces of nature; Noci sonanti by Damiano Giacomelli and Lorenzo Raponi, following the life of a father and his 11-year-old son Siddharta, in a house without modern comforts in the Apennines of the Marche region, home to the idealistic “tribe of the ringing walnuts”; The Valley by the Portuguese filmmaker Nuno Escudeiro, filmed in the Val Roia on the border between Italy and France, where a lively community of mountain dwellers and farmers risks being reported and arrested for having assisted refugees who cross the Alps on foot.
Films focusing on the transformation and current affairs of mountain areas include A Tunnel by Nino Orjonikidze and Vano Arsenishvili, representing Georgia in the competition, the country to which the special programme “Destination” is dedicated this year, documenting the tensions between the inhabitants of a mountainous region and the Chinese company constructing the railway that will link Europe to the Orient, the new and controversial “Silk Road”; Reber Dosky’s Sidik and the Panther, filmed in the magnificent mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the legendary and elusive Persian leopard could be the key to bringing peace to a whole region; and Sing me a Song by Belgian filmmaker Thomas Balmès, who returns to Bhutan after Happiness, which won the Jury Prize in Trento in 2014, to recount the contemporary and universal story of a young monk torn between isolation in a monastery in the mountains, and the temptations of his smartphone, which connects him to the rest of the world.
Two very different works, both seeing their Italian premiere, will take spectators to the great north of the American continent: North by French filmmaker Leslie Lagier, an inspired portrait of the legendary Canadian Yukon territory, from the boom of the gold rush in the past, to the social and environmental ruins left by the exploitation of resources today; and Roman Droux’s Der Bär in mir, which follows the expedition of the Swiss biologist David Bittner to the wildest part of Alaska, where he passes the summer sharing the valley with gigantic grizzly bears, filmed with breathtaking close-ups, posing questions about the relationships between man and animals.
The competition is completed with the 11 short films competing for the Silver Gentian, including The Tough by the Polish filmmaker Marcin Polar, winner of multiple awards at international level; the exhilarating Guy Proposes to his Girlfriend on a Mountain by Bernhard Wenger from Austria; the unclassifiable Untitled (Burned Rubber on Asphalt, 2018) by Finnish director Tinja Ruusuvuori; the Italian films Carie by Achille Mauri, offering a visionary view of marble quarries in the Apuan Alps, and Pratomagno by Gianfranco Bonadies and Paolo Martino, another work in which the mountains become a place for encounters and solidarity between Italians and migrants; and the Swedish animated film Zlatan in the Slopes by Monne Lindström, whose main character (drawn) is indeed the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimović, here occupied not on the football pitch, but on a ski slope.
The international jury for the 68th edition is made up of Carlos Casas (Spanish director and artist), Matteo Della Bordella (Italian mountaineer), Carmen Gray (New Zealand journalist and film critic), Gustav Hofer (Italian filmmaker and reporter) and Salomé Jashi (Georgian director).
Due to the uncertainty reigning in the world of film distribution, in this edition it was decided to reduce the presence of narrative feature films, with one exception, a comedy that since its appearance at international festivals has been considered to be unmissable for Trento Film Festival: Paradise, una nuova vita by Davide Del Degan, presented at Busan International Film Festival in Korea, tells a tragicomic story set in the midst of the icy mountains of Friuli, to which Calogero, a Sicilian witness in the protection programme, has been sent. The film will be distributed in cinemas by Fandango, and will therefore not be present in the online version of the festival.
The closing event is once again a documentary, featuring a master filmmaker dear to Trento Film Festival: Werner Herzog, with his latest work Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, a moving homage to the great British writer, journalist and traveller, with whom Herzog had a close friendship, thanks to a mutual passion for adventure at the ends of the world. The documentary, which is also a journey by Herzog back through his own films, will shortly be in Italian cinemas, distributed by Wanted, and for this reason is only available at the festival at the screening.
Exploration, the mountains and risk have always been ingredients in Herzog’s films, Trento Film Festival having presented, in the last few years alone, Grizzly Man (2005), Encounters at the End of the World (2007), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) and Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010). These are the aspects that have led the International Alliance for Mountain Films, of which Trento Festival is a founder member, to award the 2020 IAMF Grand Prix precisely to Herzog, due to the attention the director has dedicated to the world of the mountains in his work, on the final evening of the 68th edition, which will culminate with the screening of Nomad.
In a year when Italy has had to face such tough challenges, striking at the very pillars of our society, we believed it was important to concentrate on our country in the section dedicated to recounting local areas and mountain peoples today.
Starting from the north, Sotto le stelle fredde by the Friulan filmmaker Stefano Giacomuzzi is a portrait of harsh rural life in austere black and white, while the world premiere of Francesco Di Martino’s Prima che arrivi l’estate, features Italo, with a background as a political militant, who decides to live at the foot of the Adamello mountain and turn his attention to the cause of American native peoples.
Central Italy and the Apennines are the backdrop for Il passo dell’acqua by Antonio Di Biase, who crosses the Abruzzo region from the peaks of the Maiella to the Adriatic Sea in search of traces, voices and faces; and Vulnerabile bellezza, in which Manuele Mandolesi recounts how a young family of farmers in the Marche region overcome the trauma of the 2016 earthquake thanks to the bonds between them, with the land and with the animals.
Another world premiere is Senza tempo by Giuseppe Valentino, who follows a father and son, and their 300 cows, in one of the last seasonal migrations of livestock across southern Italy, from Campania to Puglia; lastly, we arrive in Sardinia with Alberto Diana’s Fango rosso, which shows us the ruins of the mining landscape in the Sulcis area, through the eyes of two boys, who find new identities and reasons for hope in this desolation.
The only film in the Highlands section that does not have the Italian landscape as a backdrop is by another Italian director, the photographer and reporter Emanuele Confortin. Kinnaur Himalaya will have its world premiere in Trento and focuses on a situation that spectators from Trentino will find familiar: the district of Kinnaur in India, where apple farming has transformed society and the life of the population.
The Highlands section also sees the presence of a number of short films, including the Italian works Di acqua, di fuoco e quello che resta by Matteo Ninni, filmed in Val Vigezzo in Piedmont, and the world premiere of a film set in the heart of Sardinia Padenti – Foresta by Marco Antonio Pani.
The section dedicated to filmmakers, productions and protagonists from the Trentino-Alto Adige region presents 5 full-length films and 3 short works.
Two Trentino filmmakers return to the festival for the premiere of their latest works: Manu Gerosa with One More Jump, filmed in the Gaza strip and Rovereto, following the parallel fates of Palestinian youngsters with a passion for parkour, whose friendship and enthusiasm is put to the test by war and migration; and Oro rosso by Katia Bernardi, who will have her very first screening at the festival, with a journey exploring the world and society surrounding the porphyry quarries of Albiano, from where the precious stone makes its way to roads and squares all over the world.
Another unusual portrait of the Trentino area and Val di Fiemme in particular, at the critical time following the 2018 Vaia storm, is Mattia Venturi’s Con le mie mani, featuring four people (a timber company entrepreneur, a famous string-instrument maker, a scientist and a mountain guide), who talk about their relationship with the mountains, nature and the local area.
There is a single protagonist, in both cases extraordinary in their own way, in Thomas Saglia’s Le creature di Andrea, portrait of a naïve artist from Trentino with a difficult past; and in the world premiere of the competing film Scrivo ad alta voce by Antonio Dalla Palma and Pier Paolo Giarolo, who has already participated in Trento with Libri e nuvole, in which the camera discreetly enters the home, thoughts and verses of the poet Roberta Dapunt, born in Val Badia, whose last collection Sincope was published by Einaudi in 2018.
The Near Horizons section is completed by the short films Manufatti in pietra by Michele Trentini, another filmmaker close to the festival, Stefano Volcan’s Il bosco cresce in silenzio e a ritmo della musica, and Emanuele Bonomi’s Croste di polenta.
In a year in which both activities in the Alps and Apennines, and major expeditions have become impossible, it will be even more special for enthusiasts of the mountains and adventure to fuel their passion through film, and this year the festival offers the public in Trentino a selection focusing more than ever on local places and protagonists.
We can begin with Armando Aste, the great rock climber passing away in 2017, an honorary partner of Trento Film Festival, with the first showing of the portrait Il cercatore d’infinito by Federico Massa and Andrea Azzetti, a journey to the places that formed the man and climber, accompanying his reflections on the values of the mountains and our limitations.
The rockfaces of Trentino are the setting for two stories recounted by several different voices: almost ninety years after the first ascent in the Valle della Sarca, Valle della luce by Alberto Beltrami and Lia Giovanazzi Beltrami takes stock of the climbing history of these rockfaces, which today attract enthusiasts from all over the world; Gabriele Donati’s Ten does something similar with the history of climbing in the Adige Valley, through the stories of key players and the feats of the climbers who discovered the rockfaces of this valley, wedged between Monte Baldo and the Lessini mountains, in the 1980s. Furthermore, Maurizio Belli and Fulvio Giovannini, whose latest exhausting 1100 kilometre crossing is recounted by Gabriele Carletti in Alaska, cercatori di avventure, are also from Trentino, this time not in the mountains of their homeland, but instead in the majestic landscape of the North American continent.
As is by now customary, the festival presents the most recent film by the great climber and now almost full-time director: in Die Grosse Zinne Reinhold Messner enthusiastically and accurately reconstructs the history of climbing on the Tre Cime, 150 years after the first ascent of Cima Grande, with actors-climbers in costume who allow us to relive five historic ascents, and the pioneering spirit of the era.
Ocean to Sky features another giant of climbing: shortly after the tragic death of his wife and daughter in a plane accident, Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Everest, embarked on an impossible expedition from the mouth of the Ganges to the source of the sacred river in the Himalayas. Michael Dillon has recovered extraordinary colour film footage from the era, aptly used in a film winning an award in Trento in 1980, to recall the adventure and Hillary the man, using unpublished testimony from the participants.
Two latter-day climbers are instead featured in Rastislav Hatiar’s Attraction of Heights, about the feats and career of the Slovakian climber Peter Hámor, marked by renunciation and sacrifices made in the name of the mountains; and Superhombre by Lucian Mircu and Mircea Gherase, a look behind the scenes at the daily life of Horia Colibasanu, a Romanian who divides his time between his work as a dentist, family commitments, the search for sponsors and expeditions to the Himalayas, seeking a complicated balance between the private dimension and a passion for extreme climbing.
However, ascents and adventure are not the exclusive province of great professional athletes, as we are reminded in Into the Canyon by the American filmmaker Peter McBride, who together with his writer friend Kevin Fedarko set out to cover the spectacular and gruelling 1,200 kilometre route along the entire Grand Canyon with calm and good humour; and Marco Zingaretti’s Alé, a homage to the sports climbing scene in Rome and central Italy, with champions and enthusiasts of all levels, including Erri De Luca, whose testimony introduces and guides the film.
The section organised together with the MUSE – Trento Science Museum offers the best international nature documentaries on fauna and the environment.
The starting point is naturally the Alps, with two films taking us incredibly close to the wild animals living on our mountains: Le plus beau pays du Monde: Le sanctuaire by the French filmmaker Frédéric Fougea celebrates the tenacity and beauty of European fauna high in the mountains, showing us that it is not always the strongest to survive, but rather those capable of adapting and helping other species; with a smaller budget, but equally spectacular results, Tomaso Baldassarra deals with the same extreme environments in La vallata della pernice bianca, recounting life in the mountains over the seasons from the point of view of fauna that has succeeded in adapting to the rigour of the alpine environment since time immemorial.
From the Alps we head for Scandinavia to pay homage to the Finnish landscape in Nature Symphony, in which spectacular naturalistic footage combines with the harmony of music. The composer Panu Aaltio has created much more than a soundtrack, and the director Marko Röhr has literally put the Vantaa Pops Orchestra centre stage, together with a 40-strong choir and the singer Johanna Kurkela, to interact with the flow of images and seasons, in the midst of lakes and forests.
As takes place traditionally, the section concludes with the film winning the last Sondrio International Documentary Film Festival on Parks, a partner of Trento Film Festival: Fathollah Amiri’s Il ghepardo asiatico dell’Iran.
PLEASE NOTE: the programme is constantly updated - for possible variations, see the official website https://trentofestival.it/edizione-2020/