The revival of the “Festival dei Popoli” moves to the United States: the new director, Luciano Barisone, will be bringing the historical Florentine documentary film festival to Snug Harbor on Staten Island from 29th “” 31st May.
Three days covering almost fifty years of the Festival’s history with ten movies, half of which dedicated to Tuscany and its culture, and the other half paying tribute to New York as viewed through some of the winning documentaries from past editions of the Festival.
This initiative, realized with the support of the Regional Government of Tuscany, in collaboration with the Fondazione Mediateca Regionale Toscana Film Commission and the Provincial Government of Florence, is the result of an encounter between two foundations with a similar cultural vocation: the “Snug Harbor Cultural Center”, based in the Botanical Gardens of Staten Island, an ancient institution owned by the city of New York, and the Fitzgerald Foundation of Florence, a new institution set up to highlight the historical links between Florence and Anglo-Saxon culture.
This American posting is part of a series of initiatives undertaken by the “Festival dei Popoli” (the 49th edition of which will be held in Florence from 14th “” 21st November) aimed at circulating around the world the material preserved in its rich archives which, from 1959 to the present day, has grown into a vast heritage of knowledge about documentary cinema and its history.
It includes 9,500 documentary films using various types of mediums (16 and 35 mm film, video tapes, DVDs) accompanied by illustrative material (photographs, slides, synopses, technical details, bio-filmographies, bills, posters, and such forth); a film library; a newspaper library containing film magazines in various languages and catalogues from the most important film festivals in the world; plus an archive of audio and video recordings from conferences, seminars and debates held at the festival over the years.
The New York edition of the “Festival dei Popoli” is taking place at a particularly positive moment for reality cinema, above all in the United States.
But, most of all, it intends to show that the Festival is “strongly committed to reviving its image on a national and international level”, as president Giorgio Bonsanti emphasizes.
“The recent appointment of a new director with a background in film Festivals of international interest confirms the event’s intention to make itself visible once again on the world scene”.
“The Festival”, continues Bonsanti, “will maintain its very special physiognomy which is, to date, more or less unequaled: in its forty-nine years of activity (in 2009 we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary), this Festival has managed to present many thousands of documentary films on a real and ideal platform, featuring the most valid specific international theatrical productions”.
WHEN EYES MEET
Cinema is a question of eyes meeting: the eyes of the people in the field, the film-maker framing them and the audience watching them.
So we felt it would be interesting, for this first experience of the “Festival dei Popoli” on US soil, to combine our proposals with the dynamics of what happens when eyes meet: on the one side, there are the eyes of the film-makers who, over the years, have observed, with curiosity or passion, the particular characteristics of Tuscan life; on another side, are the views of other film-makers on the cosmopolitan and complex life of New York; and, on yet another side, there are the eyes of the public of Staten Island, who will discover the present situation of a faraway region and the memory of a place so near to them.
The movies screened on Staten Island will, therefore, be arthouse documentaries, reality filtered through personal sensitivity.
The protagonists will be environments, architectures, unusual or quietly normal characters: a mosaic that will offer the audience a more precise view of their respective territories through well-defined points of view. Some of the documentaries will show the New York represented in the titles on the festival’s honors list from the early years to the present day: ranging from the preparation of a peace march in 1967 with “Profile of a Peace Parade” by David Loeb Weiss, to the search for memories of Ellis Island in “Récits d’ellis Island”(1978- 1980) by Robert Bober and Georges Perec, to the story of the building of a bridge in “Brooklyn Bridge” by Ken Burns.
Another group of titles will present an original view of places and events in Tuscany as seen and interpreted by film-makers of international standing: from Otar Iosseliani’s “Un petit Monastère en Toscane” which portrays the life of silence at Castelnuovo dell’Abate, to John Appel, whose “The Last Victory” documents the activities, expectations and hopes of the inhabitants of the “Civetta” district in the weeks leading up to the Palio in Siena, to Hugues Le Paige’s “Il fare politica. Cronache della Toscana rossa”, following the passions and developments of a small Communist group in Tuscany between 1982 and 2004.
Luciano Barisone, Director of the “Festival dei Popoli”