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VENICE 2018 International Critics' Week

Giona A Nazzaro • General Delegate, Venice International Critics' Week

"A selection that broadens boundaries and shuns banality"

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- We interviewed Giona A Nazzaro, the general delegate of Venice Film Festival’s International Critics' Week

Giona A Nazzaro • General Delegate, Venice International Critics' Week
(© Settimana Internazionale della Critica di Venezia)

We interviewed Giona A Nazzaro, the general delegate of Venice Film Festival’s International Critics' Week.

Cineuropa: Let's start by talking about the success of last year's edition, "really beyond our most optimistic expectations," as you yourself have previously stated.
Giona A Nazzaro: We were very pleasantly surprised by the amount of recognition we received and the amount of attention the films we screened received. Pin Cushion [+see also:
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, our opening film, was a revelation in Great Britain, obtaining unanimous praise from critics and viewers alike. Not to mention the fact that immediately after Venice, Lily Newmark, the film’s protagonist, was chosen as the new face of a campaign by a well-known haute couture house off the back of her performance. Pin Cushion is still in cinemas after being screened at film festivals all over the world. Bertrand Mandico became the director of the moment in France (he also wrote a manifesto for the revival of French cinema in Cahiers) while the excellent film Drift [+see also:
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, perhaps the gamble that paid off the most, quite literally caught German cinema off guard by demonstrating that you can have a lot of success with audiences in ways that are not necessarily focused on the narrative. Hunting Season [+see also:
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by Natalia Garagiola, which received last year's audience award, is now available to stream on Netflix. There’s nothing really to add when it comes toCrater [+see also:
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by the Italian directors Silvia Luzi and Luca Bellino, quite simply a revelation of unparalleled talent. This sort of success only leaves you feeling speechless. Even if you were secretly hoping for it.

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So would you say that film festivals serve to promote the circulation of films?
Festivals are meant to show off films and directors, I am convinced of that fact, and the failings of a system that has stopped doing its job properly due to financial concerns must not be attributed to film festivals. If anything, we should be thanking festivals for continuing to strive to create future possibilities for films and directors. Festivals discover, promote and attempt to identify directors and films that promise to help us progress towards the future. You can't also ask them to do the work of distributors, critics and sales agents. Those are entirely different jobs. Nor should we think of film festivals as a simple platform for launching films that will be released in cinemas in the autumn. Last year, Venice International Film Critics’ Week offered numerous future hypotheses that were well received. We hope the same happens with this edition.

You have tried to widen perspectives even more in this year’s edition
The real challenge is to push the boundaries of the world. Cinema doesn't only speak British and American English. Despite populist propaganda, the world consists of many worlds and experiences. It's impossible to represent such vital possibilities and experiments in just nine films, but the duty of those who have the privilege of promoting culture and thought is to try to open doors as much as they can, while policies would very much like to close those doors instead. It’s not about banally safeguarding national presences at festivals, it’s about trying to intercept movements, friction and the clashes between images and the urgencies of history. Not in terms of the sociological, or content, but in terms of the primacy of the poetic, which, as far as we are concerned, is always political. Despite the diversification of film, going to the cinema is still a collective experience that allows us to look at other ways of living and thinking.

In terms of the films that have been selected, there might not be a common thread but, better still, this year’s selection is a broad observation. There’s the extremely relevant Still Recording, which is about the war in Syria, the debut feature film by the Italian director Letizia Lamartire, the debut Montenegrin film You Have the Night and a peculiar directorial debut by the Finnish pop star Anna Eriksson.
In reality there is a common thread – even if we weren’t necessarily looking for one: the rejection of banality. Over the course of the three years in which I have had the pleasure of directing Venice International Film Critics’ Week, we have screened three Italian debuts and all three were debuts by female directors. Something we are particularly proud of. Letizia Lamartire is part of the SIC family and it is an honour for us to present her first feature film, We’ll Be Young and Beautiful [+see also:
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interview: Letizia Lamartire
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]
. I've been following Still Recording [+see also:
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for almost three years now, having watched various versions of it. From the very first time I watched it I knew it would be a huge film that would help us to rethink the role of images in the era of the absolute proliferation of images. The film, obtained from about 450 hours of footage, is a unique cinematic experience that redefines the boundaries between documentary, observation, direct cinema and realism. Beyond the fact that the film allows us to recontextualise the opposing propaganda on Syria, the film struck me as being somewhat Rossellinian in its assumption of a country’s historical moment. And I’ve yet to even mention that it plays out on film with all the intensity of a classic Hollywood political film. M [+see also:
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]
by Anna Eriksson will most definitely provoke a lot of discussion and surprise everyone: it’s a kind of feminine Naked Lunch about the eternal return of the feminine.

(Translated from Italian)

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