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“Film exists as testimony to the resistance of human beings, to draw it out of them”

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Luciano Barisone • Director, Visions du Réel


- Cineuropa caught up with Luciano Barisone, the artistic director of the Visions du Réel Festival in Nyon since 2011, who talked to us enthusiastically and with great authority about the 47th edition

Luciano Barisone  • Director, Visions du Réel

Luciano Barisone has run cineclubs and been a journalist, a film critic and the artistic director of prestigious festivals such as the Festival dei Popoli of Florence (from 2008 to 2010), and since 2011, the Visions du Réel Festival of Nyon. Cineuropa managed to talk to him about the 47th edition (15-23 April), a new edition marked by the theme of resistance, in which the concepts of freedom and open-mindedness reign supreme.

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Cineuropa: Could you expand on the idea, which is the common thread of this year’s edition, of film as an act of resistance?
Luciano Barisone: The idea of the act of resistance is part of human nature, with which it develops. We resist, physically and spiritually, trying to maintain internal continuity. For me, the mission of art is to throw up questions, to make human beings constantly call things into question. Film exists as testimony to the resistance of human beings, to draw it out of them. It’s not a question of ideology, it’s a question of fighting for humanity. When we put the programme for the Festival together, we choose films based on their aesthetic value. Every year we try to bring together two types of audiences and viewers: a wider audience interested in the narrative, and another, more intellectual audience, that’s drawn in by what we could call the “movement of thought”. Visions du Réel always tries to create a line of contact, of communication and a strong link between the films, the filmmakers and the viewers. 

We notice that this year’s programme features lots of portrayals of people who fight for survival. Is this perhaps a way of saying that film has lost nothing of its subversive and human nature?
Film is subversive, because it encourages us to believe in life. From a human point of view I believe that film is a subversive art. In reality it is films that seek us out as opposed to the other way round; the world reveals itself through them. With regard to young people, this is an aspect that has become second nature to the Festival, that’s always defined it, and this is something that is particularly close to my heart, that the Festival should be a platform of discovery and an international launchpad for young filmmakers. Having said this, the theme of (resistant) young people is clearly also present in the films themselves. In the film I Cormorani (Fabio Bobbio) the protagonists are two young boys who, despite not belonging to any kind of subversive group, resist in their own way. It’s the beginning of adulthood in a sort of no man’s land but the two young protagonists resist in spite of everything: they resist obliteration and this situation that is pushing them into not making anything of themselves. They resist in small ways, by imagining a future for themselves. We tend to associate the term ‘resistance’ with armed struggle (which is one manifestation), but resistance is an internal movement of the spirit, the conscience.

Could you briefly talk to us about the many Swiss films being screened in Nyon?
Swiss film, and this is also one of his qualities, is very eclectic. Swiss documentary makers are very often politically, socially and civilly engaged. Then there’s the need to explore the world. This year has been exceptional in terms of the quality and number of films we have received; in practice there are six Swiss productions and co-productions in the international competition. Calabria [+see also:
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, for example, (Pierre-François Sauter), which is an abstract reflection on the condition of immigration, serious but never sad, sprinkled with a healthy dose of humour. Then there are other highly personal and moving Swiss films such as Like Dew in the Sun [+see also:
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(Peter Entell) which is a symbolic example of mankind’s resistance, and Looking Like My Mother [+see also:
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(Dominique Margot), another Swiss film in competition, which very personally and subversively questions the concept of heimatfilm. The film is a reflection on the conditions that pushed the main character, her mother, into depression starting with her cultural roots, from the innermost mountainous depths of Switzerland. In this case it is the form of the film itself that resists traditional iconography. In Tadmor (Monika Borgmann and Lokman Slim), which is a co-production with Lebanon and France, the subject matter itself is resistance. In this case the protagonists are former prisoners of the most infamous of Syrian prisons, Tadmor prison near Palmyra, where for years, Bashar-al-Assad’s regime interned political prisoners, subjecting them to humiliation and torture. A group of these former Lebanese prisoners tries to shake off the crippling effect this experience had on them, by portraying the torture they had to endure.

(Translated from Italian)



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