Irene Dionisio • Director of the Lovers Film Festival – LGBTQI Visions
“A small revolution is underway in film”
by Camillo De Marco
- We talked about LGBT issues and the documentaries that are transforming fictional film with director Irene Dionisio, the director of the 32nd Lovers Film Festival – Turin LGBTQI Visions
Director Irene Dionisio will be running the 32nd Lovers Film Festival – Turin LGBTQI Visions, which will be held in the cinema of the National Museum of Cinema from 15 to 20 June 2017. This year’s edition of the historic festival, which has recently changed name (it used to be the Turin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival)and artistic direction, will welcome Jasmine Trinca as its guest star and will feature 83 films, including three international premieres, three European premieres, and no fewer than 56 Italian premieres, in many cases fresh from major international film festivals such as the Berlinale, the Venice Film Festival, Sundance, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the BFI Flare. Among the seven films in competition are European productions Just Charlie [+see also:
film profile] by Rebekah Fortune (United Kingdom) and The Wound [+see also:
film profile] by John Trengove (South Africa/Germany/the Netherlands/France). After her debut fictional feature film, The Last Things [+see also:
film profile], which was screened at several festivals after participating in Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival in 2016, this is a new challenge for Irene Dionisio.
Cineuropa: A new name, new sections, for a festival with a long and important history for the LGBT community.
Irene Dionisio: I’m honoured and feel the full weight of this responsibility. It’s important for me to clarify my position as artistic director, with Giovanni Minerva as president: the roots behind the festival have not changed, it’s just getting a new perspective from a younger team, which will nonetheless keep some of the people behind the festival in previous years. The team is really engaging with the history of this festival, and is trying to re-address the issue of today’s LGBT community and how it is represented in film. I think it’s a strong sign that the festival is getting in line with other European festivals, also binding itself to pride movements. It’s moving away from a ghettoised format in which it risks not speaking to anyone outside the LGBT community, when identity issues are universal after all. I was interested above all in the opportunity to ask new questions and ask the participants to look for answers in the event.
Can these answers be found in contemporary Italian film?
As a director and a person interested in current production, I think that Italian film is becoming increasingly effective at narrating the present day. Indeed, a lot of new productions are documentaries, which are assuming an increasingly political stance and becoming more and more important from an industrial and distribution point of view.
So trying to widen audiences of LGBT films.
There’s a certain type of film that has perhaps become somewhat of a brand and risks speaking to the same people every time. More often than not it stays fairly mainstream because it is trying to mediate and risks being unsuccessful in festivals and cinemas. LGBT festivals as such are considered B series festivals, because distributors fear the stigma attached. It then becomes a problem for the industry. This year, 25% of North American productions tackled LGBT issues, and Moonlight won an Oscar, whilst at Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and Venice we’re seeing more and more titles addressing these issues. They’re issues that are affecting increasingly wide audiences. A small revolution is underway.
How does it feel to direct a festival as a film director?
I don’t really see a lot of differences between the two roles. They’re two different ways of being involved in cinema. As a director you aim to bring your vision to the world, whereas as the director of a festival, you coordinate different perceptions, in my case of a very competent group of people, to give an overarching vision with a common denominator. The difference lies in the fact that you see a huge number of films! I’ve always lived in Turin, and I’m very fond of my city. As a director I feel like I’m in the right place, and it’s important that the role of artistic director isn’t just about choosing films, but creating a link with the local community.
You’re a documentary maker, who then went over to fictional film, a trend that is becoming increasingly common, as you said before.
There’s a strong link between my documentaries and my first fictional film. My first documentary was about an abandoned factory, the one where my parents worked when they came to Turin. That factory was closed down and became a shelter for homeless people, migrants without permits to stay etc. For 18 months and with a small crew, I followed the lives of two homeless Romanians, like a sort of Waiting for Godot, the hopes of the past and those of the present day in a game of cross references. My second film was about objects, which then returned in The Last Things. Indeed, the latter was born from research into a pawnshop in Turin, so with a documentary approach, although it ended up being filmed as fiction.
(Translated from Italian)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.