Also this year the appointment on the Croisette for international cinema has consecrated the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival at the top of the ranking of success. Cannes remains the most iconic place in the world to present a film, not only for all the big industry and distribution, but also for the off-screen cinema which here has a unique visibility, not to mention the vast enthusiastic audience of “cinéphils” who can find niche films from all continents.
Certainly the fascination, emotions and energy that the art of cinema gives us are manifested above all in the films by very young film makers from the underground circuits. At Cannes 2022 there was no shortage of very interesting discoveries among the more experimental sections such as “Un Certain Regard”, the “Quinzaine des Réalisateurs” (now in its 54th edition) and ACID’s most off-screen selection curated by independent filmmakers. If cinemas recover from the difficult crisis affecting not only Europe, these auteur films will have a distribution, otherwise they can be watched on television channels and online platforms.
Among the most stimulating films of the “Certain Regard”, it deserves to be mentioned “War Pony” written, directed and produced by two very young debutants: Riley Keough, actress and granddaughter of Elvis Presley, and Gina Gammell. It was shot on the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota. The two directors film from the inside the daily life in this community of two boys, the twenty-year-old Bill and the twelve-year-old Matho, who struggle with gimmicks and drug dealing, with the desire to make some money and turn. It is a choral film, delicate and ironic, but also tragic, which reveals how it is increasingly critical for the very young generations to grow up and become adults in a disadvantaged, socially depressed environment far from the cities. The authors say that the film was born from a collective collaboration with friends and actors which are almost Oglala Lakota all native, listening to true stories of real life, in particular the dialogue was with Franklin Sioux Bob and Billy Reddy, respectively from the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Rosebud Sioux Tribe, met in 2016 on the set of “American Honey”. Thus they began, becoming friends and attending their community, to write down pieces of simple stories, which gradually merged into a solid script with a curated subtext, a maturation that led them beyond the “première” in Cannes also the special prize “Caméra d’or”.
Another “première” to be noted is “Le vele scarlatte” (“L’envol“) by Pietro Marcello, loosely based on the 1923 novel by Aleksandr Grin. The talented Italian director of “Martin Eden”, selected for the opening of the “Quinzaine des Realisateurs”, has made a highly original French-produced film. The cast includes Louis Garrel, Raphael Thiéry, Noémi Lvovsky and Juliette Jouan. An intense and highly authorial story, visually extraordinary thanks to the sensitive and vibrant nature photography that seems to be inspired by the painting from the nineteenth-century French painters such as Chauvin and Corot. The narration, through the gaze of the author, penetrates with magical realism at the center of the profound relationship between Raphael, an old war veteran father, creator of toys, and Juliette, the little adopted daughter who lost her mother whom we follow growing up in a small village in the Northern France surrounded by woods. The girl loves music and singing, she lives in her lonely world, immersed in the countryside, far from any city temptation. Everything flows slowly, until she meets a gypsy who prophesies an encounter with a change of life. It is a film to be seen above all for its aesthetic quality, which enchants despite its extreme slowness.
In the same section Mia Hansen-Løve, born in 1981, awarded years ago with a Silver Bear in Berlin, signs “Un beau matin” (One Fine Morning) a touching story in a bourgeois environment that focuses on the sensual Léa Seydoux, absolute protagonist in the role of Sandra, a young widow with a daughter. Sandra, who works as a translator, dedicates part of her days to visit her father, a former philosophy professor, afflicted with a degenerative disease. The director highlights the nuances of the characters’ feelings by observing with simplicity and sensitivity the passage of old age with no return and the fragility of everyday life. Life takes on color again when the woman finds by chance a lost friend, the astrophysicist Clément (Melvil Poupaud), and a new complicated love relationship. An apparently light work, which was awarded the “Europa Cinemas Cannes Label” as best European film at the “Quinzaine des realisateurs” for its strength and purity.
On a whole other shore, the Queer and fantasy musical comedy “Fogo -Fàtuo” (Will-o’-the-Wisp “) by Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodrigues, the apotheosis of creativity, irony and freedom of expression. The funniest and most irreverent film in the Quinzaine, with an obsessive aesthetic taste, made on a fairly low budget, begins in 2069, with King Alfred of Portugal lying on his deathbed looking back on his youth. The story starts from when he was a twenty-year-old prince, blond, pale and thin, raised with strict court rules and destined to become the heir. Alfredo (actor Mauro Costa) is actually worried about global warming and fires ravaging Portugal, he mentions Greta Thunberg’s speech by heart and in a “Bunuelian” interior scene, during a frozen lunch with the royal family, announces that when he grows up he wants to be a firefighter. After the surprise and bewilderment, his father frees Alfredo to follow his ecological ideals and the arrival of the slender prince at the fire station becomes one of the most hilarious moments of the film. And here we enter the frame of the real musical where the gay firefighters are all dancers and have fun creating choreographies inspired by some famous scenes from the paintings of Titian (The Rape of Lucrezia) and Caravaggio. Funny pas Alfredo will find Alfonso (André Cabral), a beautiful muscular fireman, his tutor, with whom he dances a memorable “pas des deux” in a scene in the garage.
In the interesting independent section of ACID, one of the films bought for Italy is “99 Moons” by the young director Jan Gassmann set and produced in Switzerland, a dramatic, strong and hypnotic story about the crazy and passionate relationship of a young couple. It is about erotic and crazy love, which clears all the rules and brings together two socially complicated opposite worlds. The woman is Bigna (Valentina Di Pace) a very ambitious and intellectual scientific researcher and the man is Frank (Dominik Fellmann), a night owl, out of the system, organizer of the Silent Party. The tension grows between the two incompatible worlds, and the story almost takes on the tinge of suspense. ACID always promises films with a high emotional impact and a “different” vision just like “99 Moons”.
War pony. Un film di Gina Gammell, Riley Keough, USA, 2022, 115 min, courtesy Protagonist Pictures
Le vele scarlatte. Un film di Pietro Marcello, Francia, Italia, Germania, Russia, 2022, 99 min. courtesy 01 Distribution
Un beau matin. Un film di Mia Hansen-Løve, Francia, Germania, 2022, 112 min, courtesy Teodora Film
Fogo-Fátuo. Un film di João Pedro Rodrigues, Portogallo, Francia, 2022, 67 minuti, courtesy JHR Films
99 MOONS. Un film di Jan Gassmann, Svizzera, 2022, 110 min, courtesy Teodora Film
99 MOONS. Un film di Jan Gassmann, Suisse, 2022, 110 min, courtesy Teodora Film
Manuela Teatini, film maker and journalist, focuses on visual arts, in particular cinema, photography and contemporary art. She has written freelance for years with VOGUE, Uomo VOGUE, ELLE and other cinema, art and new trend magazines. She is the author and director of the docufilms “ART BACKSTAGE. La passione e lo sguardo” (2017),” MASSIMO MININI. Story of a Gallerist “(2019),” GIOVANNI BOLDINI. Il Piacere. Story of the Artist” (2021) awarded at the Terra di Siena International Film Festival 2021.