A former high-security convict who is one of the lead actors in the film, “Cesare deve Morire” (Caesar Must Die), leads the contingent of Italian talents and film critics who just arrived in Manila for the 2nd edition of the Italian Film Festival, which opened December 4.
Salvatorre Striano stars as Brutus in “Caesar”, which started the festival with an invitational screening. Striano attended acting classes while serving eight years in Rome’s Rebibbia high-security prison. Which is apt as “Caesar” is a docu-fictional work on the daily lives of convicts in an Italian prison and their emotional involvement in a theater project – “Julius Caesar” written by William Shakespeare.
It’s a grand start for the film fest as “Caesar” won the Golden Bear Award at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2012. The opening film is also Italy’s entry to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 85th Academy Awards, more popularly known as the Oscars.
Formally known as “MovieMov: Italian Cinema Now,” the 2nd Italian Film Festival opened with the red carpet event held at the Ayala Center. Emanuela Adesini, the Italian embassy’s cultural attaché enumerated the other Italian personalities who are in the Philippines for the 2012 MovieMov: Jennifer Ulrich (actress in the film “Diaz”); Alessio Gallo (actor, “L’ Intervallo”); Andrea Bosca (actor, “Magnifica Presenza”)’ actress Vanessa Gravina, who is also known as the “godmother” of MovieMov; Davide Iacopini (actor, “Diaz”); and journalist-film critic Piera Detassis.
‘Very high quality’
Adesini said Filipino directors who were invited to the opening night of the festival are: chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Briccio Santos, Albert Almendralejo, Arnel Mardoquio, Clodualdo del Mundo Jr., Giuseppe Bede Sampedro, Mario Celada, Richard Soriano Legaspi, Ronnie Bertubin, Tikoy Aguiluz, and Mark Meily.
Prominent Philippine entertainment personalities are also expected to walk the red carpet.
In a separate interview, Italian Sen. Goffredo Bettini, of the General Direction for Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Culture, said the 2012 MovieMov has “a more ambitious” film programming and the roster of Italian films are of “very high quality.”
“We have decided to show the Filipino audience the difficult times our country is going through via films. While the films are very enjoyable, they are also very relevant in terms of portraying Italian social and national concerns,” Bettini said in the interview.
“Take for example, Cesare deve Morire, which will be shown for the first time in Asia. It is not only a movie but a social experiment. It was shot entirely in a prison in Rome, with real life convicts as actors,” Bettini said.
Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Luca Fornari said that the goal of the annual MovieMov is to showcase a line-up of Italian films and events that will best promote and show Asia, notably in the Philipines, Thailand, and India, what the present-day Italian cinema is all about.
“MovieMov is also the red carpet, the walkway for the Italian and Filipino stars. MovieMov is the competition of contemporary Italian movies judged by a jury of Filipino audience,’ Fornari said.
The FDCP’s Santos said MovieMov is “a very good opportunity to connect the rich film cultures and traditions” of Italy and the Philippines. “This kind of cross cultural engagement is excellent. Each country’s film tradition recognizes the other film culture.”
“The red carpet is synonymous to a film festival. The red carpet’s significance in the MovieMov in the Philippines is like walking through a cross-cultural exchange,” Santos said.
“Like Italy in Europe, the Philippines is one of the oldest film cultures in Asia. We were the ones who taught the Malaysians and Indonesians film-making. Our film culture started in 1908, only 12 years after cinema was invented in Paris,” he added.
Starting Dec. 5 up to the 9th, MovieMov 2012 opens to the public at Greenbelt 3 cinemas, with seven Italian films released in 2012 and a retrospective of films by Sergio Leone, the master of the “spaghetti western” genre, as focal points.
The line-up showcases the following: “Cesare deve Morire” (Caesar must die) by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, “L’intervallo” (The Interval) by Leonardo di Constanzo, “Posti in Piedi in Paradiso (A Flat for Three) by Carlo Verdone, “Magnifica Presenza” (Magnificent Presence) by Ferzan Ozpetek, “L’ Industriale” (The Entrepreneur) by Guilio Montaldo, “Diaz” (Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood) by Daniele Vicari, and “Romanzo di Una Strage” (Piazza Fontana – The Italian Conspiracy) by Marco Tullio Giordana.
In homage to Leone, the 2012 MovieMov features “The Colossus of Rhodes,” “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For A Few Dollars More,” “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “A Fistful of Dynamite,” and “Once Upon a Time in America.”
Among the Filipino films to shown in the Philippine section of the MovieMov are Gutierrez Mangansakan II’s “Qiyamah,” Olivia Lamasan’s “The Mistress,” Chito Roño’s “Dekada 70,” and Manuel Conde’s “Genghis Khan.”
Conde’s internationally and critically acclaimed “Genghis Khan” was recently digitally restored with the assistance of the Italian government. “Genghis Khan” competed in the 1952 Venice Film Festival, with the newly digitally restored version shown last September at the 69th Venice Film Festival.
Adesini said the 2012 MovieMov will also feature workshops and roundtable discussions among Italian and Filipino filmmakers and producers to facilitate “an international exchange of ideas and concepts in filmmaking, as well as discuss future collaborations and lasting partnerships.”
“What makes Moviemov different this year is also the educational component. There will be a special screening for the high school and university students at 10:00 a.m., from Wednesday to Saturday,” she said. “The Embassy of Italy and Playtown will provide free transportation for the students. After watching the movie, the students will have the possibility to interact with the Italian and Filipino celebrities.”
MovieMov 2012 is supported by the General Direction for Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Film Development Council of the Philippines, the Italian Embassy in the Philippines, Playtown, Philippine-Italian Association, Rustan’s, The Peninsula Manila, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. — DVM, GMA News