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ROME 2012

Waiting for the Sea by Kudhojnazarov opens Rome’s 7th International Film Festival


- Produced by Germany, Russia, Belgium and France, a new film by the man behind Luna Papa tells the story of a sailor’s desperate attempts to drag a shipwreck across the desert.

Is Rome’s International Film Festival, a popular event or a niche event? This is the question on everyone’s mind as the seventh edition of the festival running from 9-17 November launches. As spectators await the films selected by new artistic director Marco Muller (read theinterview), two facts have been made clear. The first is that 15% less tickets have been sold compared to last year (although there are 30% more accredited visitors, the president of Rome’s cinema foundation, Paolo Ferrari, pointed out). The second is the fact that the film launching the festival, Waiting for the Sea by Tajik directorBakthiar Kudhojnazarov is everything but a popular choice.

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Produced by Germany, Russia, Belgium and France, Waiting for the Sea - the second instalment in a Central Asian focused trilogy started with Luna Papa - is the story of a sailor’s desperate attempt to drag a shipwreck across the desert, in search for a lost sea. The film stars Russian actors well known at home but little recognised abroad (Egor Beroev and Anastasia Mikulchina). The plot mixes magical realism and western environmentalism (the idea came from one of the biggest environmental disasters of the twentieth century: the drying up of lake Aral on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan). Its strength resides in its extremely powerful photography. The steppe’s vastness, the camels and the horses, the white, arid ground, the glare of crystallised salt and the rustiness of abandoned boats. The boat we see the most of is Captain Marat’s, which is dragged along burnt earth (reminiscent of similarly visionary Fitzcarraldo), in search of the sea. But the sea has left and taken with it feelings, jobs, and identities.

More European, and more straight forward, is the collective film opening new section CinemaXXI: Centro histórico [+see also:
film profile
by Aki Kaurismaki, Pedro Costa, Victor Erice and Manoel de Oliveira (read the news story). The film is the sum of four personal insights on the Portuguese city of Guimarães, 2012 European capital of culture. Kaurismaki’s unmistakable segment is one of the best, thanks to its irony, distinct traits and picturesque light. Erice’s interpretation is also a success. He uses documentary style to explore what remains of the greatest textile industry in Europe. The fixity of factory worker interviews may be a little tiring but the starting point (an old photo of the food hall from the beginning of last century) gives the story instant strength, as do the faces from another era looking into the camera. Their stare is the sum of one thousand stories. Not one of them ever smiles.

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(Translated from Italian)

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