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Francesco Di Pace • SIC Delegate General/Venice Film Festival

"We look for tradition and innovation. But the true risk-takers films are increasingly more rare"

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Francesco Di Pace  • SIC Delegate General/Venice Film Festival

At his second term as delegate general, Francesco Di Pace has been heading the International Critics’ Week (SIC) for six years. In recent years, the parallel and proudly autonomous section of Venice Film Festival (September 1-11) – which has always been dedicated to debut films and this year turns 25 – has uncovered some great titles, including the publically and critically acclaimed The Girl by the Lake [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Mid-August Lunch [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
.

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This year’s opening film is once again Italian, but it’s not exactly “new”…
Francesco Di Pace: We’re re-offering Carlo Mazzacurati’s Notte italiana, which was part of the fourth edition, because we want to celebrate our 25th anniversary with an Italian debut and thus remind audiences what SIC has done for our film industry, hosting many names of which we can be proud, such as Paolo Benvenuti, Roberta Torre, Sergio Rubini and Vincenzo Marra. Moreover, Notte italiana is a little known work that speaks of the moral, social and political break-up that led to our current period.

With regards to these years: Has the crisis made itself felt on the selected films?
It’s a theme that traverses the entire selection, which is tackled through recurring characters and situations: dissatisfied women seeking professional and emotional solutions to their life’s problems; or certain dysfunctional families that are private symbols of a moral and social crisis.

What are the criteria behind your selection process?
We try to balance films with a traditional narrative structure with more innovative ones. Even though the true risk-taking films, today, are increasingly more rare. This year, however, we have two very interesting films not only for what they recount, but for how they’re made: the Slovenian title Oča by Vlado Škafar, a poetic film about a father/son relationship that is surprising for its naturalistic performances; and the Greek film Hora proelefsis by Syllas Tzoumerkas, upsetting and imperfect, with an ambitious construction that oscillates between the past and the present.

Yours is a privileged observation post on debut films, and above all this year you pay particular attention to European cinema. Can you tell us something about the latter?
As always, French cinema is doing great, once again this year there was a wealth of choice. Ultimately, we selected Alix Delaporte’s Angele et Tony and a co-production with Israel, Naomi. France still gives the impression of caring about cinema, about its debut filmmakers, giving them the possibility of debuting with adequate means for making films that aren’t improvised. I’d like to see that kind of attention towards Italian cinema more often.

Yet there is an Italian film…
Yes, Massimo Coppola’s Hai paura del buio, and I can say that for better or for worse it doesn’t seem at all Italian. It is centred on two women – one from Romania, the other from Melfi – whose encounter will lead to a mutual exchange.

And the rest of Europe?
Our great relationship with Scandinavia allowed us to select the directorial debut of Pernilla August, a great actress was at SIC last year in A Rational Solution [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jörgen Bergmark
film profile
]
. Her Beyond is a heartfelt and sincere film, with a very solid narrative and a great cast, beginning with star Noomi Rapace, and which has a great chance of coming out in theatres.

Speaking of theatrical releases, how much does the SIC stamp help in finding an Italian distributor?
It’s difficult for foreign films. If the don’t have a distributor before the festival, it’s doubtful they’ll find one on the Lido. We’d like for distribution companies to get interested in our films before the festival but, unfortunately, they’re rather “deaf”, and during the festival they rarely have time. Like everyone else, we feel the absence of the market. Abroad, however, films very much play up their participation in SIC when they’re released theatrically.

Is that different for Italian films?
In recent years, SIC had been good for Italian films, and vice versa. I’m referring above all to two hits like Andrea Molaioli’s The Girl by the Lake and Gianni Di Gregorio’s Mid-August Lunch, while we expected more for Good Morning, Aman [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
by Claudio Noce. In general, Italians come to us in the hopes of having a springboard, and we believe we ensure them the right visibility.

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