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Monday, August 13, 2018

Basilicata Native Wins Top Prize at the Rhode Island Film Festival

London-based, Basilicata native Luca Nappa took the top prize at the Rhode Island Film Festival in the section "Voyages of Discovery" for his short film Warriors of Sanità.

Fresh off the Giffoni Film Festival where it won the Rai Cinema Channel Award, the film is set in the Sanità district of Naples and tells the story of two children, Francesco and Vincenzo, who believe they have found a mutant with magical powers. The main interpreters of the film are Francesco Capaldo, Vincenzo Quaranta, Loredana Simioli and Saeid Haselpour.

The Rhode Island Film Festival is one of the American festivals affiliated with the Academy Awards, which are among the prerequisites for an Oscar nomination.

The film was  produced by Diego D'Ambrosio for Uncoso Factory and London Film School.

- Jeannine Guilyard

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Francesco Patierno to Present his Latest Work at the 75th Venice Film Festival

It was recently announced that documentary filmmaker Francesco Patierno will present his latest work "Camorra" in the Sconfini program of the 75th Venice Film Festival, which runs August 29 – September 8. The film has been described as “a striking historical and socio-anthropological portrait of the Campania’s regional capital and of the organized crime that afflicts it.”  Patierno spent months researching the treasures of Rai Teche archives and uncovered a number of period films, many of which were previously unpublished.

Born in Naples in 1964, Patierno studied architecture before discovering his passion for filmmaking. He worked as a creative director for an ad agency producing video clips and commercial spots for RAI. Then in 1996, he tried his hand at filmmaking with a short film called "Quel giorno" (That Day). The compelling 10-minute film premiered at the 53rdVenice Film Festival and was shown at more than 50 film festivals worldwide. Adapted from a story by Renata di Maria, "Quel giorno" simply but powerfully demonstrates sorrow and empathy as strangers react to a man leaning on a building sobbing.

Patierno’s 2003 feature film "Pater Familias," the story of a prisoner who settles his debts on a granted day of leave from jail, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and made its North American premiere later that year at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. With the success of "Pater Familias," Patierno went on to direct four high profile films with A-list Italian actors, including the acclaimed documentary "Bergman and Magnani: The War of the Volcanoes," the story of the rivalry between Ingrid Bergman and Anna Magnani that took place on the island of Stromboli while they were both shooting separate movies. Magnani was heartbroken, having just been left by Roberto Rossellini as his relationship with Bergman was developing.

Watch "Quel Giorno"...

In 2016, Patierno’s documentary "Naples ‘44" became his most successful international release to date, getting American distribution by First Run Features. Adapted from the book by Norman Lewis, a British intelligence officer sta­tioned in Naples during World War II, and narrated by British film and TV star Benedict Cumberbatch, "Naples ’44" is a hard dose of reality. Intermixing archival footage, old cinema clips, dramatizations and the recollections of an officer who witnessed unfathomable atrocities, Patierno’s film is informative, riveting and at times shocking. I caught up with him while he was in New York presenting “Diva!” at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, and asked about the inspiration behind making such a powerful film. “The inspiration to make this film came from my father. One day, he told me about how he had escaped a bombing by accident only because he was on the righthand side of the road. All those on the left died because they were shot by a machine gun being fired from an airplane. He said, ‘If you want to know more, read "Naples ’44" because it’s a very interesting book not only about the period during the war but it’s also significant in understanding the Neapolitan people in general.’ I read this book and I fell in love. So from there, the idea came to me right away to make a film.”

A scene from "Naples '44"
We learn in the opening sequences of "Naples ‘44" that Allied troops mounted a surprise landing at Salerno in German-occupied Italy nine months after D-Day. Narrated by Cumberbatch, excerpts from Lewis’ diary follow. Among those shocking revelations is the devastating delayed action devices left by the Germans before their departure from Naples. Several hundred mines were buried under principle buildings. These bombs would randomly explode with no warning in the middle of busy piazzas. Lewis described the bombings as “a senseless massacre perpetrated on the Italian civil population.” 

The Neapolitan people suffered grievously in the coming months, not just as a result of the bombings but also because of diseases like typhus and malaria that spread throughout the population. “The war pushed the Neapolitans back into the middle ages,” Lewis declared.

Watch a clip from our interview...

Lewis spent about a year among the Italians. Over that year, he grew to admire and respect them for all they were forced to endure. The film ends with a statement by Lewis which encompasses his affection and respect for a people he grew to admire and respect.”

Click here to purchase tickets for the screening of "Camorra." Click here to stream "Naples ’44" on Amazon. 

-Written by Jeannine Guilyard for Fra Noi Magazine

Monday, August 6, 2018

Actor/Writer/Director Giulio Base on 'Il Banchiere Anarchico'

Among the diverse selections of the 75th Venice Film Festival is an adaptation of a short fiction by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Il Banchiere Anarchico (The Anarchist Banker) is the story of a banker who engages in a revealing conversation about why he considers himself an anarchist even though he doesn't possess the obvious traits.

Published in 1922 and set in a Lisbon café, the conversation takes place between a wealthy banker and his friend as the two have a friendly but passionate exchange about the qualities of a true anarchist. The wealthy banker stands by his claim that he is the only true anarchist left and makes a compelling and at times surprising argument to back his belief.

I spoke with the creator of the film, Giulio Base for some insight into this story and why a piece of literature written nearly a century ago is still very relevant today.

Let's just start at the beginning. Why did you want to adapt this story for the screen?
I love Pessoa. More than that: I adore him, I venerate him. And this literature is more or less my ‘life statement’.

With all the political turmoil these days, the story of an anarchist is certainly relevant. How do you feel it applies to contemporary life in 2018?
The tale was written in 1922, but as all the masterpieces, it is timeless. What is impressive is how important bankers are today. They are on the front pages of every newspaper. So, the mind of this poet was visionary.

Is the story a complete fiction or was Fernando Pessoa writing about himself?
Totally fiction, but Pessoa always put a bit of himself in his works (who doesn’t?).

I read that you have also portrayed this character on stage. In interpreting the primary role of the banker, what qualities in him did you identify with?
As the tale’s banker, I love to wake up early, go to bed early. Work without pause, keeping in mind that fame is not important. Freedom is. 

Do you feel that people should read the story before seeing the movie, or can someone walk into the theater and follow the movie without knowing the story?
I tried to make a movie as a cultural message. I read the book for the viewer, I represent it as if it was real life. For the joy of literature I suggest to read it but it’s not necessary to get into the movie.

Base will present his film in the Sconfini program on September 7 at 9:00am. Click here to read The Anarchist BankerClick here for more information about the screening in Venice. The film will be released in Italy following its premiere at the festival. 

- Jeannine Guilyard

In Conversation with Director Cecilia Pignocchi

Filmmakers Arthur Couvat and  Cecilia Pignocchi It’s unusual for a first-time filmmaker to be recognized by a high-profile, international fi...