The 32nd Trieste Film Festival, directed by Fabrizio Grosoli and Nicoletta Romeo, will take place from 21 to 30 January. Albeit in a new formula dictated by the Covid-19 emergency (the 50+ titles in the programme will be available online on the MYmovies platform), the festival remains loyal to its founding “mission”, that is, bringing the best of Central and Eastern European cinema to Italian audiences, while also keeping alive through cinema the memory of the most important historical moments of this part of the old continent, such as in recent editions dedicated to the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany.
Indeed, this edition should have been centred on remembering the conflicts in the Balkans thirty years on: “A spotlight on the thirtieth anniversary of the Balkan wars (1991-2021) is a project which has been years in the making”, explain the artistic directors. “The pandemic has forced us to postpone it, as many of the films we wished to screen only exist in 35mm, and are therefore impossible to show in an online format. While we plan to reschedule the event (hopefully in the Spring), it seemed imperative to us that such an important anniversary should be marked by dedicating to it two of the festival’s key moments: its opening and closing films”. The festival will launch with a showing of Underground, Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1995 – Emir Kusturica’s anarchic and surreal fable, with which he “reinvented” the breakup of Yugoslavia with his irrepressible style. The festival will be closed by another great film – Theo Angelopoulos’ Ulysses’ Gaze, winner of Cannes’ Grand Prix in the same year. Two films which could not be more different, “one could call them – to borrow Italian critic Morando Morandini’s verdict at the time – the Odyssey and the Iliad of the late 20th Century”.
The screening of Underground is linked to one of the two traditional prizes awarded by the Trieste Film Festival, the Eastern Star Award. Established to celebrate cinema personalities whose careers have built bridges between East and West (previous recipients include Irène Jacob, Monica Bellucci, Milcho Manchevski, Rade Šerbedžija and Kasia Smutniak), this year’s award goes to great actor Miki Manojlović. His success owes much to his initial collaboration with Kusturica (apart from Underground, he starred in When Father Was Away on Business and Black Cat, White Cat) before he gained international prominence and worked with directors such as François Ozon (Criminal Lovers), Giuliano Montaldo (The Demons of St. Petersburg) and Sam Garbarski (Irina Palm, which earned him a nomination to the European Film Award).
The Cinema Warrior Award, created to reward the tenacity, sacrifice and insanity of those who fight for cinema, goes to Associazione U.N.I.T.A., for their way of promoting the acting profession in Italy’s artistic, cultural and social landscape; in particular for their commitment to improving gender equality, and maintaining high standards of professionalism, sustainability, openness and inclusivity in the industry.
The three international competitions dedicated to feature films, shorts and documentaries remain at the core of the Festival.
Thirteen films make up the Feature Competition (the jury comprises director Adina Pintilie, producer Ewa Puszczyńska, and programmer and critic Paolo Bertolin).
Two stories in which fatherhood is put to the test by a context that makes it difficult (but not impossible) to fulfil one’s role as a parent – if the hero of Father by Srdan Golubović (Audience Prize Winner in the Panorama Section at the 2020 Berlinale) has to contend with the corruption of social services in present-day Serbia, the father in Andromeda Galaxy by More Raça would do anything to leave Kosovo and secure a better future in Germany for his daughter. Exil by Visar Morina, shown at Sundance, also plays out between Kosovo and Germany. This story of a pharmaceutical engineer who is discriminated against on ethnic grounds is a meditation on – according to the director – “Western arrogance towards those who come from economically weaker countries”. Piotr Domalewski’s I Never Cry is set between Poland and Ireland and offers a realistic look at the difficulties faced by families that are separated by emigration. Immigration features also in Fear by Bulgarian director Ivaylo Hristov, a drama that turns into (absurd) comedy about a woman willing to antagonise an entire village by hosting a migrant. We leave present-day Europe to go back to the early post-war years in two films: A Frenchman by Andrej Smirnov, set in Moscow in 1957 and seen through the eyes of a young Frenchman, the son of an officer who had been arrested there in the ‘30s. In the Dusk di Šarūnas Bartas, presented at Cannes and premièred at San Sebastian, is a coming-of-age story of a nineteen-year-old boy caught up in the Lithuanian resistance against Soviet occupation. Greece is represented by Siamak Etemadi’s Pari: an Iranian mother on the streets of Athens is looking for her son, a student from whom she hasn’t heard for ages. Striking a completely different tone is the Romanian satirical comedy The Campaign by Marian Crișan, in which a politician being investigated for corruption is seeking election to a seat in Strasbourg; and the Serbian My Morning Laughter by Marko Đorđević – a semi-autobiographical thirty-year-old man’s belated coming-of-age tale. Furthermore, two of last year’s most surprising films: Sweat by Polish director Magnus von Horn, selected at Cannes, depicts three days in the life of a fitness instructor/Instagram celebrity who becomes the victim of a stalker; and Beginning by Dea Kulumbegashvili from Georgia, also selected at Cannes and winner at San Sebastian, tells the story of Yana, the wife of a leader of a Jehovah’s Witnesses community that is being attacked by an extremist group. Finally, Faruk Lončarević’s So She Doesn’t Live was inspired by the most gruesome murder in post-war Bosnia and describes a vicious world of violence and brutality.
Featuring as a special event not in competition, from Azerbaijan, In Between Dying by Hilal Baydarov (also featured in the Documentary Competition with his Nails in My Brain) is an intimate journey of discovery à la Bresson.
The Documentary Competition presents ten titles (the jury comprises director Eszter Hajdú, Leena Pasanen – director of the Biografilm Festival – and Heidi Gronauer – director of Bolzano’s ZeLIG documentary school).
Acasă, My Home by Radu Ciorniciuc, winner of an award at Sundance, tells the story of a family who for decades lived in the uninhabited and wild area of the Bucharest Delta, an abandoned water basin on the outskirts of the big city, until the area is transformed into a national public park and they have to move to the city. Family spaces are also central to Nails in My Brain by Azeri director Hilal Baydarov, a journey through the ruins of a childhood home, where every derelict door opens onto the past, triggering a meditation about memory – and cinema – which forever returns to the same questions, the same memories, the same obsessions; and in Blockade by Hakob Melkonyan, where he recounts the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh through the story of a family from his native village. Two films from Croatia: Landscape Zero by Bruno Pavić, takes us onto a strip of coastline devastated by an industrial settlement and makes us consider the relationship between humans, nature and culture; and Once Upon a Youth by Ivan Ramljak, the portrait of the lost generation of the late Nineties looking for a (new) identity after the devastation of the war. Russia is represented by Dmitrij Bogolyubov’s Town of Glory, shot during the course of three years in Yelnya, a town where military propaganda is as key today as it was in the past; and Russia also features in the German film Garage People by Natal’ja Yefimkina, where garages become the ultimate safe haven for the preservation of one’s individuality. From Austria, Pavel Cuzuioc’s Please Hold the Line is a scathing yet humorous reflection on the contradictions of an increasingly “connected” world in regions torn apart by nationalism, by looking at the work of telecommunication engineers in Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Holy Father from Romania juxtaposes a son who is soon to become a father – the director Andrei Dăscălescu himself – and a father who has become a monk. Lastly, Gentle Warriors by Lithuanian director Marija Stonytė, where voluntary military service and a year of training at a military base with 600 male fellow soldiers set three young women onto the path to independence.
Sixteen titles make up the Short Film Competition (the jury is composed of Dimitra Karya – artistic director of Cannes’ Cinéfondation; producer Andrijana Sofranić Šućur and journalist Alessandra De Luca). Italy is represented by Lorenzo Quagliozzi’s Illusione and La tecnica by Clemente De Muro and Davide Mardegan (CRIC).
This year two new sections will integrate the three main competitions: Off the Beaten… Screens and Wild Roses: Women Filmmakers in Europe.
“With ‘Off the Beaten… Screens’ – explain the artistic directors – we wanted to create a new window dedicated to innovative filmmaking perspectives and forms, to host titles that present ‘looser’ narrative structures, irregular durations and cross-fertilisations between genres and styles”. This section welcomes young talents as well as established auteurs. Among the latter, we present two of Romania’s best contemporary directors: Cristi Puiu and Radu Jude. Puiu (who will also hold a masterclass online) is represented by the Italian première of Malmkrog. The film, a philosophical exploration on cinema and memory, and winner of an award at last year’s Berlinale, is a successful adaptation of Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov’s Three Dialogues. Radu Jude’s Tipografic Majuscul draws inspiration from a stage play to present the parallel fortunes of Ceaușescu and Mugur Călinescu, a teenager who challenged Communist Romania’s regime by lampooning it with his writings on the city walls. Same era, different country in Tomasz Wolski’s An Ordinary Country – a sort of Polish ultra-realistic The Lives of Others, this found-footage documentary uses exclusively video and audio material recorded by the Communist security services between the ‘60s and ‘80s. Numbers by Ukrainian director Oleh Sencov is a dystopian sci-fi tale shot remotely from a maximum-security prison in Siberia, while serving a 20-year sentence for alleged terrorist activities. Finally, two women directors. Jelena Maksimović from Serbia reflects, in her Homelands, on her family’s origins, when she discovers the village from which her grandmother fled during the Greek Civil War. Russian director Maria Ignatenko’s In Deep Sleep is a meditation on grief and loss symbolised by the deep sleep into which the world seems to fall when the lead character, Victor, learns that his wife has died.
“The section ‘Wild Roses-Women Filmmakers in Europe’ ” – continue Fabrizio Grosoli and Nicoletta Romeo – “is a space we intend to dedicate to women directors from Central and Eastern Europe (who, by the way, have always featured prominently at the festival), focusing on a group of female filmmakers from a different country every year. Audiovisual industry data reveal how globally films made by women struggle more to find funding, regardless of their artistic merits; therefore, we thought it important to play our part in celebrating and promoting European female directors through a dedicated window. In 2021 the choice fell naturally on Poland, where, in the last few months, women have made their voices heard, demonstrating against new laws that aim at limiting some of their fundamental freedoms”. Five women directors will participate in a dedicated panel co-ordinated by Marina Fabbri – albeit remotely – and through their works we shall discover new forms of female representation, as well as considered and uncompromising ways of looking at their country. Hanna Polak’s Something Better To Come is the portrait of Jula, a teenager whose adolescence is spent at Europe’s biggest landfill site, the Svalka, on the outskirts of Moscow. Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s The Lure is a love story between two mermaids and a bass player in 1980s’ Warsaw – a mix between horror and musical. Anna Zamecka’s Communion tells the story of children who have to grow up (too) quickly. Anna Jadowska’s Wild Roses describes the life of a town in southern Silesia – its church and rose plantations, its men working abroad and the youth congregating in the evening at the bus stop. And finally, Jagoda Szelc’sTower. A Bright Day shows a first communion like many others, while disturbing news is being announced on the TV.
The Art&Sound section – supported by Sky Arte, which will reward one of the films by acquiring it and showing it on their channel – presents five premières which explore the most diverse artistic fields. In Antigone – How Dare We! by Jani Sever, the classical heroine is reimagined by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s interpretation. Homecoming – Marina Abramović and Her Children by Boris Miljković retraces the life of one of contemporary art’s most influential figures as she returns to her native Belgrade. Paris Calligrammes by Ulrike Ottinger presents an autobiographical immersion into the literary and artistic life of 1960s’ Paris. Le Regard de Charles by Marc Di Domenico and Charles Aznavour chronicles forty years in the life of the legendary chansonnier and actor, recounting his passions and travels through the films captured with his first and inseparable movie camera, a gift from Edith Piaf. Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus by Dalibor Barić, as the title itself suggests, is an experimental example of animation with surrealist influences.
The Corso Salani Award 2021, as is customary, presents five Italian films completed in 2020, but still looking for a distributor. The jury (comprising producer Donatella Palermo, critic Grazia Paganelli and filmmaker Carlo Michele Schirinzi) will award the prize (€2,000), which should be considered as an incentive for the theatrical release of the winning film. The nature of the shortlisted works remains unchanged: these are independent films, that cannot easily be labelled within specific genres or formats and which are therefore innovative, in the spirit of Corso Salani’s own cinema. This year’s films are: Divinazioni by Leandro Picarella, Libro di Giona by Zlatolin Donchev, Samp by Flavia Mastrella and Antonio Rezza, I Tuffatori by Daniele Babbo, Ultimina by Jacopo Quadri andVera de by Beniamino Catena.
Having reached its 11th edition this year, When East Meets West is an event organised by the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Audiovisual Fund together with the Trieste Film Festival, EAVE, Creative Europe Desk Italy, and with the support of Creative Europe – Media Programme, Direzione Cinema – MiBACT, Film Center Serbia and the Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, and with the patronage of EURIMAGES.
The 2021 edition will be a four-day event dedicated to producers, commissioning editors, markets and regional funding bodies from Italy, Europe and beyond. Our aim is, as ever, to create an event that can generate close ties between the participating regions and countries. Cinema professionals from various countries meet through a series of roundtables, masterclasses and case studies, making WEMW a unique point of reference for producers who are looking to find collaborations to realise their projects. Commissioning editors, distributors and representatives of funding bodies and markets will take part, so as to present the whole range of production and distribution opportunities, as well as financial resources, available to the industry. We are confident that the 2021 edition of WEMW will again prove very popular with industry insiders and consolidate what is, in our opinion, an essential networking opportunity for the development of audio-visual companies of the New Europe. Moreover, WEMW is maintaining its commitment to exploring and researching specific national audio-visual production in the East and the West, bringing to Trieste, for the first time, a special selection of projects from the two countries in focus this year – Italy and Israel. The core of the event continues to be the co-production forum dedicated to documentaries and features in development, maintaining the same elements as in previous years, but adding some new and important features. Day after day you will discover new aspects which will make WEMW 2021 an opportunity for dialogue and discussion, to rethink the present and find new inspirations for the future, without losing that informal atmosphere and those playful aspects which have always characterised this event in Trieste.
The Trieste Film Festival and When East Meets West present the seventh edition of Last Stop Trieste, a section dedicated to documentaries that are still in progress, i.e. fine cut projects that have previously been developed or presented at one of the other platforms participating in the scheme: Ex-Oriente Film Workshop, BDC Discoveries, Docu Rough Cut Boutique, Baltic Sea Docs, ZagrebDox PRO and When East Meets West. In this special edition of both festival and market events, documentaries that are at the fine cut stage will be presented to an exclusive audience of 40 sales agents, festival programmers and TV commissioning editors, with the aim of being selected by the most important international film festivals, and increase the likelihood of finding distribution. An international jury will select the best project. “Last Stop Trieste” is organised by Alpe Adria Cinema-Trieste Film Festival and the Friuli Venezia Giulia Audiovisual Fund, with the support of Creative Europe, MIBACT-Direzione Cinema and by the Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia. The initiative is co-ordinated by Rada Šeši, programmer at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
When East Meets West and the Trieste Film Festival present the fourth edition of This is IT, a section entirely dedicated to fiction features and hybrid works with a strong visual and creative approach, which are being produced or co-produced by Italian production companies (as majority or minority stakeholders). The selected teams will be able to present their projects and show ten minutes of their films online to an exclusive panel of sales agents, festival programmers and international buyers. Thanks to the partnership with Milano Film Network (MFN), all the projects presented at “This is IT” have been shared and considered by both selection panels. The aim is to offer a double opportunity to Italian producers, increasing their chances to identify partners for distribution, both at national and international level. An international jury will choose the best project among those shortlisted.
Albania – Armenia – Austria – Azerbaijan – Belgium – Bosnia Herzegovina – Bulgaria Chile – Croatia – Czech Republic – Denmark – Estonia – Finland – France – Georgia – Germany – Greece – Hungary – Ireland – Italy – Kosovo – Latvia – Lithuania – Macedonia – Mexico – Netherlands – Poland – Portugal – Romania – Russia – Serbia – Slovenia – Spain – Sweden – Switzerland – Turkey – Ukraine – United Kingdom – United States
The 32nd Trieste Film Festival has been realised with the contribution of Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia; Direzione Generale per il Cinema – Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo; Comune di Trieste; PromoTurismo FVG; Creative Europe-Media Programme; with the support of Associazione Corso Salani, CEI-Central European Initiative; Fondazione Benefica Kathleen Foreman Casali; Fondazione Osiride Brovedani Onlus; Polish Institute in Rome; Fondazione Pietro Pittini; and with the collaboration of Animateka-Ljubljana, Associazione Casa del Cinema di Trieste, Associazione Festival Italiani di Cinema (AFIC), Casa della Musica/Scuola Musica 55, Cineteca di Bologna (Schermi e Lavagne), Cineuropa, Claimax, Cooperativa Bonawentura, Doc Alliance Film, DoubleRoom arti visive, E-contemporary, Film Festival Cottbus, Fondo per l’Audiovisivo del Friuli Venezia Giulia, FVG Film Commission, Galleria Regionale d’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Spazzapan, Hrvatski Drzavni Arhiv (Croatian Cinemateque-Croatian State Archives), Kinoteka-Ljubljana (Slovenian Film Archive), Milano Film Network, MIDPOINT-a training and networking platform for film & series development, MYmovies.it, Národní filmový archiv-National Film Archive Prague, Osservatorio Balcani, Caucaso e Transeuropa, PAG – Progetto Area Giovani del Comune di Trieste, Sky Arte HD, SNCCI-Sindacato Nazionale Critici Cinematografici Italiani, University of Bristol.
Media partners: MYmovies, Anonima Cinefili, DAFilms – Doc Alliance Films, East European Film Bulletin, Fred Radio, Il Piccolo, Quinlan, Taxi Drivers, Tënk
Media coverage: Sky Arte HD
Technical partners: Art&grafica, Clear Channel, DoubleTree by Hilton Trieste, Eventival, Grand Hotel Duchi D’Aosta, Ideando Pubblicità, Savoia Excelsior Palace, Spin.it, Tipografia Menini, Wyth
Web media partners: Cineclandestino, Cinematographe, La Folla, ItaliaMagazine, Just Cinema Tabloid, MyUrby, La Nouvelle Vague, Oubliette Magazine, Vero Cinema
Sponsors: Antico Caffè San Marco, Piolo&Max, Parovel
The Trieste Film Festival is a member of AFIC Associazione Festival Italiani Cinema.
Established in the years immediately preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Trieste Film Festival is the leading Italian event dedicated to the cinema of Central and Eastern Europe. For over thirty years it has promoted the cinema of countries and directors which are often unfamiliar – or even unknown – to Italian, and, in general, Western audiences.