Ginella Vocca • Founder and artistic director, MedFilm Festival
“The festival’s themes are listening to and welcoming others, and culture as a unifying element”
- We chatted with the director of the Roman gathering - dedicated to Mediterranean and European film - about the protagonists of this 29th edition
From 9 to 19 November, Rome’s MedFilm Festival is set to welcome films from 40 countries, taking participants on a journey through stories, cultures and traditions which have always been interwoven and similar in nature. Premieres, masterclasses and meetings involving more than sixty international guests, including Angela Molina, Yousry Nasrallah, Faouzi Bensaidi and Leonardo di Costanzo, and the MedMeetings space - is the only Italian platform dedicated to the Mediterranean film industry - are all on the agenda. We took a closer look at the main themes explored by the festival with its director Ginella Vocca.
Cineuropa: The official image of this year’s event is dedicated to Maria Callas, the “voice” of the Mediterranean par excellence.
Ginella Vocca: The figure of Maria Callas is a tribute paid by the festival to an extraordinary woman and artist on the centenary of her birth (2 December 2023). This image, created by video artist Gianluca Abbate, is a powerful and mythical representation of a kind of femininity which is intimately connected with creativity, but it’s also a symbol of the Mediterranean, the complex place which we’ve been reflecting upon through film for 29 years. Women are at the centre of this year’s edition of the MedFilm Festival, which boasts an incredibly rich programme, encompassing - in a participatory and transversal way - young authors, characters written with great gender awareness, and actresses with exemplary careers under their belts, who will also sit on the various juries, largely composed of brilliantly talented names in the fields of acting, film direction, writing and production, namely Carla Altieri, Esmeralda Calabria, Annalisa Camilli, Anna Ferzetti, Ilaria Macchia, Astrid De Bernardinis, Laura Samanie and Jana Wehbe. The 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award will also be handed to a woman: Ángela Molina, an iconic actress in Spanish and European cinema, an incredibly popular style icon and a rebellious body for directors such as Buñuel, Wertmüller, Bellocchio, Almodóvar, Petri, Pontecorvo and, recently, Liliana Cavani.
The guest country of honour at MedFilm 2023 is Spain, represented by Ángela Molina herself. What have you focused on, in particular?
Spain is playing an increasingly central role when it comes to continental films: the city/countryside conflict, the hold Capitalism has over local communities, the new ecological awareness, the rise of a generation with a different political consciousness. A kind of new "transición española", as was the case at the time of Ángela Molina’s first works, whom we’re really happy to have here with us to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be handed to her by Sergio Castellitto. The films we’ve selected are amongst those which best represent all this: Matria by Álvaro Gago (in the Official Competition), Alcarràs [+see also:
interview: Carla Simón
interview: Carla Simón
interview: Giovanni Pompili
film profile] by Carla Simón, Tobacco Barns [+see also:
interview: Rocío Mesa
film profile] by Rocío Mesa, Negu Hurbilak [+see also:
interview: Colectivo Negu
film profile] by the Negu Colllective and The Volunteer [+see also:
film profile] by Nely Reguera.
Considering the ongoing changes in social equilibrium and cultural exchanges, have you noticed any shifts in recent years towards new and different themes by films from the countries overlooking the Mediterranean?
We start out from a basic assumption: that there’s no such thing as the northern and southern banks of the Mediterranean; instead, we travel from the Maghreb to the Mashrek, from Gibraltar to the Dardanelles, from the Pyrenees to the Balkans. This incredibly wide and rugged horizon, which takes all of the different “shores”, “seas” and “lands” into account, allows us to see continuities rather than ruptures, unions rather than estrangements. Exchanges are what interest us, journeys as physical, mental, linguistic and social dimensions. This allows us to gather in and record the “cross-border” reflections of great authors and young talents, the increasing centrality of gender, the generational change in terms of content and protagonists. The MedFilm Festival’s USP and the reason for its longevity and topicality is its commitment to peace, dialogue and coming together. The themes the festival is determined to carry forward are listening to and welcoming others, and culture as a unifying element.
The MedMeetings are now at their seventh edition. How important is this industry section of the festival?
Cultural exchanges are inseparable from the transfer of knowledge, professionalism and structures between film industries in the region. The MedMeetings event is the first ever Italian industry platform to be specifically dedicated to Mediterranean film and professionals in the region. If the MedFilm Festival is the end point for the titles presented here and for the authors we invite, the MedMeetings are everything that goes before, on a path which starts with a single idea and continues towards production and ultimately post-production. Over the years, these moments of union and development have proven to be an essential hotbed for talent and for projects which have gone on to win over different audiences and venues following their time at the MedFilm Festival. I need only mention The Last Days of Humanity [+see also:
film profile] by Enrico Ghezzi and Alessandro Gagliardo (screened Out of Competition in Venice), Fragments from Heaven [+see also:
film profile] by Adnane Baraka (which graced Locarno’s Cineasti del Presente competition) and Dormitory [+see also:
interview: Nehir Tuna
film profile] by Nehir Tuna (selected for Venice’s Orizzonti line-up). And we’re experiencing ever-greater levels of support: for this year’s edition we’re backed by the IOM – International Organisation for Migration, the Italian Ministry of Culture, the Lazio Region and Stadion Video.
(Translated from Italian)
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