There is a lot of satisfaction for the Italian presence at Cannes: three films in competition («Mia madre» by Nanni Moretti, «Youth-La giovinezza» by Paolo Sorrentino, «Il racconto dei racconti» by Matteo Garrone), a documentary in the Un Certain Regard section («Louisiana» by Roberto Minervini) and, just to raise the ante, a feature and a short («Mediterranea» by Jonas Carpignano and «Varicella» by Flavio Risuleo) in the Semaine della Critique.
Things have maybe never been so rosy for our movie industry: a sign of great vitality and creativity, although everyone knows that behind it lies the reality of a very worried industry.
However, in a season that is critical for the box office, the filmmakers that have decided to go for an immediate release in Italian movie theatres, Moretti, first in line on April 16th, Garrone and Sorrentino, straight after the French showcase, respectively on May 14th and 21st, remain more than positive.
After the Festival program had been made official, the three directors, all in competition with each other, made it clear that they felt like a team. Group photos and joint statements, even though Moretti, from Pordenone, where he was accompanying «Mia madre», then threw water (or was it petrol?) on the fire: «This is all the result of individual efforts, not of “systemizing”. There is no strong industry, or laws and policies that support cinema backing us, whilst we are going to a country (Editor’s note: France) that takes cinema seriously, as both an industrial and an artistic product».
If we take a look at the companies that are han- dling the foreign sales of the three Italian movies in competition it is difficult to contradict him: Britain’s Pathè Pictures International for Sorrentino’s film and Hanway for Garrone, France’s Film Distribution for Moretti.
So, Moretti. A lot has already been said about his picture: the elaboration of the mourning process for his mother whose progressive decline is shown, and the transference with the character played by Margherita Buy, a film director to whom Moretti attributes the stigmata he sees in himself: uncertainty, inadequacy, emotional impulses, self-absorption and flashes of perception.
Co-produced with France, it has already been purchased by numerous countries (Sweden, Japan, Benelux, Switzerland, Austria, Israel, Brazil, Portugal), but will certainly receive a further boost from Cannes.
The situation is different for Garrone and Sorrentino: two movies with an Italian heart but which, to all effects and purposes, are international: Italo-Franco-British co-productions with an Anglophone cast.
From a production and planning viewpoint, after «This Must Be the Place», «Youth» is nothing new for the Neapolitan director: it is produced by Indigo Film in collaboration with Medusa, in association with Barilla G. and R. Fratelli S.p.A. and BNL Gruppo BNP-Paribas for Italy, Barbary Films, Pathé, France 2 and Cin.ma for France, Number 9 Films for the United Kingdom and C-.‐Films for Switzerland, with the contribution of MIBACT, Eurimages and the audiovisual funds of the Lazio and Veneto regions.
Written and directed by Sorrentino (the screenplay published by Rizzoli will be available in bookstores from May 21st), the movie has an all-Italian technical crew (photography by Bigazzi, editing by Tavaglioli, sets by Ferrario and costumes by Poggioli), whilst the leading actors are all Anglo-American stars: Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Michael Caine, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda.
Two octogenarian friends meet up in a large Alpine hotel with a central European feel, a movie director and a composer-conductor: the former is still active, involved in making his last work which he wants to be the climax of his career; the other is retired without any regrets, but someone wants to get him back on the rostrum.
Conscious of the fact that they have reached the end of their existential journey, they observe their children, grandchildren, colleagues, essentially the younger generation, and their confused efforts to get by.
Similarly complex as regards the production but with a completely different tone at a time when fairy tales are a big success at the box office, «Il Racconto dei Racconti» by Garrone returns to «Lo cunto de li cunti» by Giambattista Basile, the 17th century collection of tales of popular Neapolitan tradition, for an international mega-production: with the music by Alexandre Desplat, photography by Peter Suschitzky, costumes by Massimo Cantini Parrini and sets by Dimitri Capuani. The cast is also cosmopolitan: Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, the sis- ters Jessie and Bebe Cave, along with Alba Rohrwacher, Massimo Ceccherini and Renato Scarpa representing Italy.
If these are the Three Musketeers, Roberto Minervini is D’Artagnan, the outsider who has won himself a place in the Un Certain Regard section: another project that speaks English and flies the French-Italian flag (an Agat Films & Cie, Okta Film production, in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma and Rai Cinema, recognized as being of cultural interest by MIBACT (the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and with the support of the Centre National de la Cinématographie).
Set in one of the most marginal areas of the States, the documentary «Louisiana» (in cinemas from May 28th) is about social outcasts living in that inhospitable region who are at war with the world and searching for redemption and recognition.
Already a Festival expert (his «Stop The Pounding Heart – Texas Trilogy, Act III», winner of the David di Donatello, was in the Official Selection out of competition in 2013), Minervini, who comes from Le Marche, is as international as his films: he studied cinema in Spain and in New York, he has lived and worked in the Philippines, and now he commutes between America and Italy.
Then there are the two Italians in the Semaine de la Critique: «Mediterranea» is also a co- production between a number of different countries (Italy, France, United States and Germany).
In the case of the Italo-African- American Jonas Carpignano, the lens is pointed towards the world of migrants that come to Europe from Africa in order to find a future for themselves and their families, the interminable and dangerous journey, and the clashes with our country’s intolerance.
The young director’s first feature movie, some stories and characters/performers from his previous shorts appear, «A Chjana» and «A Ciambra». After taking his shorts to various festivals including Venice, Carpignano studied directing and scriptwriting in New York and at Sundance Lab he was featured on the list of 25 new names in independent cinema by Usa Filmmaker Magazine.
For the «Mediterranea» project, he was awarded 60,000 dollars from the San Francisco Film Society for the post-production.
The short, «Varicella-Chicken Pox» is an all- Italian product portraying a mother’s anxiety about getting her son to catch the illness named in the title which is harmless for children but dangerous for adults.
Flavio Risuleo is also not a newcomer to Cannes: his graduation work at CSC, «Lievito madre», won third prize at Cinéfondation 2014.