The Ice Forest: a high altitude noir
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Claudio Noce’s new film unveils the murky mysteries of a small and seemingly tranquil Alpine village. With Emir Kusturica, Ksenia Rappoport, Adriano Giannini and Domenico Diele
It’s extremely cold in Claudio Noce’s The Ice Forest [+see also:
interview: Claudio Noce
film profile]. Snow, ice-cold winds, watery eyes, and frozen feet: you can almost feel the cold in the cinema when watching the movie. Set at high altitude, among the valleys and dams of Trentino, between snow-topped mountains, cable cars and mountain huts where alcohol flows, the second feature from the Roman director (with Good Morning Aman [+see also:
film profile] he won the FICE award for best upcoming filmmaker in Venice in 2009), was screened at the Rome Film Festival in the Cinema d’Oggi competition. A slow-motion suspense thriller and noir, about borderlands and illegal immigrant trafficking, about a past that resurfaces and a cold-blooded vendetta, twenty years on.
Challenging the ice, in Noce’s film, are Ksenia Rappoport, Adriano Giannini, Domenico Diele and Emir Kusturica, making his third appearance in an Italian movie (Andò and Robbiano directed him before now). A mystery surrounds the dam that overlooks a small Alpine village on the border of Slovenia. Lana (Rappoport) investigates. A determined police woman who, passing herself off as a zoologist tracking bears, attempts to uncover the secrets of this rough and wary community, in which “beast men” move about, with unkempt beards, faces chiselled by the wind and a mysterious gaze. First among them are the brothers Lorenzo (Giannini) and Secondo (Kusturica), illegal immigrant traffickers. They now deal mainly in Africans; twenty years previously it was Bosnians fleeing the war. But after the arrival of Pietro (Diele), a young technician called to fix a breakdown at the power station, Lorenzo disappears into thin air. Pietro is not what he claims to be, and in 1994, as a child, he was also there, crossing that dam…
A genre film that makes reference to current events (immigrant exploitation) but doesn’t give up on feelings: that’s what Noce was aiming for. That’s why he created a screenplay (with Francesca Manieri and Elisa Amoruso) that’s deliberately laconic; it tells us little about the characters and about their past and it leaves several subplots in suspense, by focusing on a polished direction, the magnificent landscape and the actors’ skill, but it risks losing the viewer and confusing them. Yet, if it’s true that a good film is one that can create atmosphere, The Ice Forest certainly succeeds in doing so: the cold lingers, just like the gaze of those mountain dwellers and the nature that looms silently, the scene of human trafficking, hate and solitude.
Produced by Ascent Film with Rai Cinema and with the support of Mibact and Trentino Film Commission, The Ice Forest will be distributed in Italian theatres on 13 November by Fandango. International sales have been entrusted to French Doc & Film International. The movie has already been sold, following its debut in Rome, in Russia and in countries of the former Yugoslavia. Talks are underway with Spain, France and Portugal.
(Translated from Italian)