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FESTIVALS Italy

50 years of documentaries at Popoli

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Florence’s Festival dei Popoli (November 1-8), the world’s first documentary festival, turns 50. For the occasion, more than in previous editions even, the festival offers a programme that spans the past, present and future.

This year, Popoli places much attention on Italian documentaries, in which artistic director Luciano Barisone says he “perceives a driving force unhoped-for until a few years ago”. There are four feature films in the international competition – Marco Santarelli’s Genovatripoli, Massimo D’Anolfi’s Grandi Speranze, Felice D’Agostino’s Parenti, In Amabile Azzurro and Giovanni Cioni’s In Purgatorio) – and two in the shorts competition (Paola Piacenza’s The Land of Jerry Cans and Bruno Oliviero’s Così Eravamo).

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Also slated are the finalist projects of the Solinas Award “Documentary for Cinema”, whose 2009 winners will be announced during the festival. Popoli and Solinas furthermore will together pay homage to one of the historical names of Italian documentary filmmaking, Cecilia Mangini. The director will receive a Medal of the President of the Republic from Solinas while the festival, in the retrospective The Feeling of Being There, will present her films from 1958-1965, including La Canta Delle Marane.

There are European Italian (co)productions in the line-up, including two by French maestros. In Nenette, Nicolas Philibert tells the story of the orang-utan of the title who has lived since birth in Paris’ Jardin des Plantes; while Luc Moullet in Land of Madness takes spectators to a remote area of the Alps marked over the decades by several horrible acts of violence.

The most highly anticipated name, however, is Thomas Heise. To this extraordinary – and often contested, before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall – filmmaker from the former GDR, the festival dedicates the first Italian retrospective (which includes his latest film, Material), closing a gap exactly 20 years after German reunification.

(Translated from Italian)

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