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Monday, October 21, 2019

Michele Diomà and James Ivory's New Film to Premiere in New York

It's just been announced that director Michele Diomà's new film, Dance With Me Again Heywood!, starring novelist James Ivory, will make it's world premiere in New York as a Special Event at the 2019 edition of N.I.C.E. (New Italian Cinema Events).

Heywood is a poet who works several jobs to make a living. He was a florist for a while and he's been working as a video editor ever since he moved to New York. Heywood lives a lonely life with two homeless men as his only friends until an expected encounter rocks his world. One morning, he meets a woman suffering from "Moon Butterfly Syndrome”, a condition that makes her invisible to everyone except carriers of the syndrome, such as Heywood. The two start seeing each other, often to go waltzing in secret on a Manhattan rooftop. At the same time, Heywood starts wondering whether he'll be able to ignore the prejudice cast upon him by people who could only see a man talking to himself in the streets, while in fact he was with the invisible woman. Will Heywood have the courage to be himself? This dilemma represents Heywood's challenge and the very core of this New York fairy tale, a film that combines two narrative threads while honoring the history of cinema thanks to the presence of James Ivory.

Diomà will be in New York to present the film on November 20. We will keep you posted on the venue and complete lineup of N.I.C.E. as soon as they become available. Click here to read my 2017 interview with Michele Diomà.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Pierfrancesco Favino on his Portrayal of Tommaso Buscetta

Actor Pierfrancesco Favino is no stranger to American audiences. In addition to the Italian blockbusters that have made it to our shores, including Gabriele Muccino’s The Last Kiss, Roberto Ando’s The Confessions, and Ferzan Ozpetek’s Saturn in Opposition, he’s had significant parts in numerous American productions. Among them are Ron Howard’s Angels and Demons, Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna and a stint as Christopher Columbus in Night at the Museum. He even gave us a tour of Rome via his Vespa for CBS This Morning during the papal conclave of 2013. In every character that he becomes, Favino brings his signature humility and grace making his characters vulnerable yet strong in their convictions and above all, unforgettable.

His latest film made its American premiere at the 57thNew York Film Festival in October and is Italy’s entry for the Academy Awards. Directed by Marco Bellocchio Il Traditore (The Traitor) is the true story of mafia informant, Tommaso Buscetta. The role is arguably the most important of Favino’s career. “It’s a story of a man who wants to die in his bed. It’s a tragic journey of a man,” Favino told us while he was presenting the film in New York. 

Tommaso Buscetta was born and raised in Palermo. The youngest of 17 children, he was the only member of the family to get involved with organized crime. He quickly moved up in the ranks and went beyond the confines of Sicily to work in Brazil and New York during his dealings with the Gambino crime family. Everything changed in 1982 after two of Buscetta’s sons were murdered. He was overcome by grief and decided to break the code of silence. He did it during the tumultuous 1980s when the violence of the Cosa Nostra crippled Palermo. Referred to as the Maxi Trial, Buscetta’s testimony eventually led to the incarceration of some 400 mafiosi. 

Our contributor Lucia Grillo sat down with Favino while he was in New York presenting the film at the 57th New York Film Festival. She talked with him about his portrayal of Buscetta and also about his upcoming projects.

What compelled you to take on this role?
Well I really wanted to do it so the first thing I did was try to convince Marco to take me. I was not offered the movie. I really did my best to be in the movie… because of him, because of Marco Bellocchio and because of the character and the meeting between these two big figures, Buscetta and Bellocchio. I was very curious to see how he would have handled that kind of man and mafia movie, which is something he’s never done. So I knew it would have been a great opportunity for me as an actor.

He did it in a very unique way. Watching the film, I was thinking of people who are not familiar with the story- would they realize the impact of Buscetta and this entire trial and the mafia rite because it doesn’t start with the violence. So for those of us who do know the story, we can follow but then it’s absolutely clear what the impact was on the people.
Well in the end, of course, there are different levels and one is the historical level and then there’s the personal level and I think that’s what people can empathize with. In the end, it’s a story of a man who wants to die in his bed and wants to survive, which is archetypical. It’s a tragic journey of a man. Then of course, there are all of the ingredients of the mafia movie but I really like the way Marco portrayed it because those people are not glamourous as we’re used to seeing. There’s nothing cool about them. Gunshots are real gunshots. There’s nothing that is action movie-driven. It’s more of a very unique way of looking at the inner life of this man and I think this has something that everybody in the world can watch and understand.

It’s kind of like here where we have mainly African American youth when they get to the age of 30, it’s a celebration because there’s so much violence in inner cities still that if they reach age 30, it’s the exact same thing.
Well, I wasn’t born in Sicily in the 20s, so I can’t really know what it was like and why he decided to embrace mafia because he doesn’t come from a mafia family, so he wanted to build to belong to the mafia but violence is everywhere. I don’t know what you think about it. Violence is everywhere. We’re surrounded by violence and aggressiveness and so it is something that we can recognize and we all want to be part of something but at the same time, we all want to be oneand this is another aspect of this story. He wants to be recognized for what he is and not for what he belongs to. Then he does not accept things that are changing around him and he’s loyal to what he believed in. There’s a subtle anguish that he always feels and I think that makes him a compelling character when you watch the movie.

It's interesting too because these men are not necessarily sociopaths where they love. And he is portrayed as someone who didn’t really care about his children but there’s that moment, that scene after his children are killed, his adult male children, and he’s lamenting. For a moment, I was thinking I can’t feel for him. I wanted to feel for him but I couldn’t and I was expecting something lofty to come from him. Can you talk a little bit about that scene?
Well as I was telling you, there are different aspects. One is the fact that you belong to mafia. The other is that you have children and I’m a father, too, so when I imagine for a second that that might happen to me, I suffer over that. It’s something that I can empathize with or sympathize with. But then at the same time, he’s guilty and he will always be guilty. So as you were saying, you embrace his feelings but you don’t really get to be with him until the end, which is what we wanted to do. In my research, I understood that he was a family man. You know when you talk about abandoning children, think about all the people that go abroad to work and leave their children and then they see them after four or five years especially if you belong to that kind of mafia. It wouldn’t have been possible in his mind that his best friend would have betrayed him. So that was a kind of revolution because mafia promised the people belonging to their criminal organization that nothing would have harmed their children or their families. So that was like the last evidence of the fact that things were changing. So when that happened, it made him crazy. It's enough to listen to the actual recordings of him crying over this. He did it truly so we didn’t really invent that moment. He was a very sentimental man believe it or not.

I believe it. I’ve known people who were apparently as you said.
You’re Italian, you’re origins are Italian. You know how important family is for us. You understand the investment we make in that kind of idea of a tribal group and for us it’s something that is very touching. And then for anybody who has children, even coming from other cultures, will understand what it means for a father to lose his children especially if he’s guilty of having abandoned them or left them behind.

Did you feel a responsibility to the legacy of Buscetta?
I felt a responsibility for history. I felt a responsibility for the legacy of Falcone more than the legacy of Buscetta to be honest. I wanted to speak to the family but it wasn’t possible and of course whenever you portray somebody that’s really existed, the first audience you’re addressing are the people who might have been keen or part of his family. But then in the end, this man also became a public figure. So when you deal with a public figure, you are free to imagine or make up what his life might have been. I don’t think there’s anything disrespectful (in the film) in terms of talking about his life and his family. It’s all been confirmed by a documentary that you can find on Netflix now where his children and his wife decided to appear and talk about him. So if you look at the documentary, if you compare it with the movie, there is nothing that is different in the story of this man. The idea of his life is not far at all from what they wanted and what they've said in the documentary. So we managed to be loyal to his legacy I think. 

And you have a couple of movies coming out..
Yes, there’s a movie I made last year that’s going to come out in Italy in January that’s about Bettino Craxi, an Italian politician in the 80s and then a movie I made with Gabriele Muccino. It’s the fourth movie we made together and that’s going to come in February. And now, I’m shooting a movie that I’m coproducing and that’s the third movie of a young director. His name is Claudio Noce and I’m playing in it as well.

And that’s in Calabria?
That’s in Calabria, your region of origin! Yes, and as soon as I get back, I’m going there to continue shooting.

Are you going to be speaking in Calabrese dialect?
A little bit, yes!

The documentary that Favino referenced, Our Godfather: The Man the Mafia Could Not Kill, is available on iTunes and Netflix. Follow us on 
Twitter and Facebook 
for updates on the release date of The Traitor in America. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ermanno Olmi and Pier Paolo Pasolini Masterpieces at the Eastman Museum

The Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York will host two screenings of Italian classic films.

Ermanno Olmi's 1978 film, The Tree of the Wooden Clogs, will be shown as part of the Labor Film Series. The film reflects Olmi's deep understanding of the rhythms of life and labor of northern Italy’s peasants and his commitment to them. Winner of the Palme d’Or, the film depicts the seasonal cycle of work on a small farm in late nineteenth-century Lombardy, capturing the social structure and events that shape the characters,  portrayed by non-actors. The screening will take place on Friday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m.

The following week, Pier Paolo Pasolini's heartbreaking 1962 film, Mamma Roma, will be shown. Featuring the iconic Anna Magnani, the film is the tragic story of a mother living in the poor suburbs of Rome trying to make ends meet by working as a prostitute. The film will be shown on Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Both screenings will take place at the newly renovated Dryden Theatre. Click here to visit the Eastman Museum online.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Beginning of the Mafia Movie Genre in America

With Italy’s entry for the Oscars being Marco Bellocchio’s story of a Sicilian mafia informant, I thought I’d do a few posts about the genre of mafia films. 

Have you ever thought about what started the craze for mafia-themed movies in America? That was one of the questions I explored in my 2018 documentary, Return to Lucania.. When I sat down with actor/director Pif on two occasions, he told me so much about the differences in how the Sicilian mafia (Cosa Nostra) is portrayed in American films versus how it was in real life. 

Chatting with Pif at Lincoln Center's annual film series, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema

In this clip from my documentary, Pif talks about how so many mafiosi ended up in America. I was initially asking him about the organized crime group Black Hand, which had a pretty strong presence here in Rochester, New York from 1910-ish through the 50s. They were known to level houses with bombs if they didn’t get their “protection money” and in one case, killed and dismembered a 33-year-old Sicilian man named Francesco Manzello who was suspected but not proven to have been involved in the death of one of their family members. It’s a fascinating story. Google “Barrel Murder” Rochester, New York or click here to read an in-depth article, but beware, the images are very graphic. 

Pif said that he didn’t have first hand knowledge on the Black Hand in America but talked about the Mussolini years and how the dictator claimed to have solved the problem of Italy’s mafia when in reality, he just shipped many of its members off to America. 

Then I take a look at the very first known American film of the mafia genre whose star was from my ancestral region of #Basilicata, which I had mentioned at the beginning of the film, was the location for several of Luigi Di Gianni’s early documentaries. 

Here is the copy from the script…
“When we think of who immigrated to the United States, it was a lot of people who were very desperate and that would have included certain criminals. A little later on from the period you're talking about when Mussolini was in power, Mussolini set out to defeat the mafia under Prefect (Cesare) Mori. At that time, members of the Sicilian mafia claimed they were going to leave saying that they were anti-fascist but that wasn't really the truth. Then Mussolini declared that the mafia had been defeated for once and for all.”
The rise of Nickelodeon age of cinema in 1900 and the packed movie houses that featured these short films, proved that audiences wanted to see dramatic stories. With the success of the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery, it was just a matter of time before a story about organized crime made it to the big screen. 
In 1906, The Black Hand, which stars Robert Vignola, who was born in Lucania, not far from the scenes of Luigi Di Gianni’s documentary films, tells the story of an Italian butcher whose daughter is being held for ransom. Set in New York City, the 10-minute film is known to be the first of the mafia genre.

Click here to watch my documentary, Return to Lucania.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Shooting Underway for the Manetti Brothers' 'Diabolic'

Moi with the Manetti Bros in NYC, 2012
Cineuropa is reporting that shooting is underway for the Manetti Brothers' new film Diabolic, which follows the adventures of the famous Italian comic book hero- a fascinating, steely-eyed thief created in the 60s by Angela and Luciana Giussani. The all-star cast includes Luca Marinelli, Miriam Leone, Valerio Mastandrea, Claudia Gerini and Serena Rossi.

Written by Michelangelo La Neve and the Manetti Bros., who penned the story alongside Mario Gomboli, the film will tell the darkly romantic story of Diabolik and Eva’s first meeting, set in the fictitious state of Clerville in the 1960s. The movie will be shot between Courmayeur, Bologna, Milan and Trieste.

“Diabolik is the dream that we’ve been chasing since the very beginning”, the two brothers explained when announcing the film to attendees of the Giornate Professionali del Cinema event in Sorrento, back in December. “We’re in seventh heaven and thrilled to be bringing this project to the big screen. We’ll do everything we can to do it justice”. Meanwhile, CEO of RAI Cinema Paolo Del Brocco commented: “We can’t wait to see the Manetti brothers get to work on this idea, which is a perfect fit for the two most pop directors in Italian film”. He went on to predict “an innovative and amazing, all-Italian film”.

The film will be released in Italian cinemas in 2020.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Series based on Tommaso Buscetta is in the works

Variety is reporting that Mediaset is moving into the international TV arena with a high-end series about Tommaso Buscetta, the first high-ranking member of Cosa Nostra to break the Sicilian Mafia’s oath of silence.

Working-titled “Don Masino” the eight-episode show is being shepherded by prominent producer Pietro Valsecchi through his TaoDuefilm and TV shingle, which is fully owned by Mediaset

Valsecchi, who has long been churning out hits on his home turf, has been developing the Buscetta series for six years. He was beaten to the punch by director Marco Bellocchio’s feature film The Traitor, the Buscetta biopic that has been a box office draw in Italy after launching from Cannes and is Italy’s Oscar candidate this year.

 “It confirms that Buscetta is a powerful character,” said Valsecchi, who adds that the series will be “completely different” because it will cover the “full narrative arc of his story in its many facets.”

The Mediaset series arc will start from the 1950s when Buscetta, who came from a family of 18 children, was rising in Cosa Nostra’s ranks. It will thrash out the big moment when in 1984 Buscetta decided to start cooperating with Italian and, later, American prosecutors. Buscetta turned against the Corleonesi faction in the first major “betrayal” within Cosa Nostra’s high-ranks after a mob war caused the killing of members of his family. He died in Florida under police protection in the year 2000.

“The idea is to depict in depth the journey of this controversial character whose two big dramas are his dilemma in becoming a turncoat, which he did in a spirit of revenge, and his face-off with Totò Riina, [aka the Boss of All Bosses].” Riina embodied a more violent strand of Sicilan mobster, who made the Mafia’s code of honor stop “making sense” to Buscetta after most of his family had been annihilated, Valsecchi said.

The screenplay is penned by Graziano Diana, Claudio Fava (“The One Hundred Steps”), Monica Zappelli and Valsecchi who said other writers may come on board to give it a polish.

Talks are underway for as yet unspecified German and Brazilian partners to come on board. The “Don Masino” budget will be more that $15 million, Valsecchi said, adding that he is shopping the series to Netflix, Amazon and other global streamers.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Announces Partnership with Istituto Luce – Cinecittà

Annual Series of Italian Film Screenings
Will Begin with Centennial Tribute to Federico Fellini

ROME, ITALY, October 8, 2019 The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures today announced Istituto Luce – Cinecittà as a Founding Supporter with a five-year agreement in support of an annual series of Italian films and accompanying public programs. The museum will be the world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies and moviemaking. Over the course of the five-year agreement, the Academy Museum team will curate an annual series of Italian masterpiece film screenings and programs in consultation with Istituto Luce – Cinecittà. The first will be a centennial tribute to the legendary writer-director Federico Fellini (1920–1993), which will travel to major museums and film institutes in Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States.

The partnership was announced today on the occasion of the first Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member event in Italy, co-hosted by Istituto Luce – Cinecittà, with the support of Mastercard. At the reception and dinner to be held at Palazzo Barberni in Rome this evening, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and Academy President David Rubin will welcome nearly 200 Academy members, filmmakers, artists, and dignitaries, and celebrate the great achievements of Italian cinema.

“We are pleased to partner with Istituto Luce - Cinecittà to bring iconic Italian cinema to movie fans visiting the Academy Museum from around the world,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “Federico Fellini was my first love in international film—his work defines the art of cinema. And through the years, many more of Italy’s great films and directors will be featured.” 
President and CEO of Istituto Luce - Cinecittà Roberto Cicutto said, “We are proud of our friendship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which shares our deep commitment to preserving films and film heritage, and we are delighted to align ourselves with the Academy Museum. This new, Renzo Piano-designed, institution is certain to become one of the great international beacons for everyone who loves film. We look forward to launching the series in Los Angeles next year.”
Bernardo Rondeau, Head of Film Programming at the Academy Museum, said, “The Academy Museum is committed to celebrating the highest achievements in global cinema. We are excited to collaborate with Istituto Luce - Cinecittà for this five-year series of Italian cinema. We will provide an Academy experience to present each of the films in this series.
About Istituto Luce – Cinecittà
Istituto Luce - Cinecittà is the state-owned company for the preservation, restoration, and promotion of Italian cinema worldwide, from a merger of Istituto Luce (founded 1924) and Cinecittà (founded 1937). Since July 2017, Istituto Luce - Cinecittà has taken back the legendary Cinecittà Studios and post-production labs, as well as Cinecittà Digital Factory, the Studios’ digital center: which is responsible for post-production to restoration. It also houses the renowned Archivio Luce, (part of the Unesco’s Memory of the World Register), one of the largest European documentary and photographic archive; it is responsible for the distribution of European films and documentaries, and the promotion of Italian cinema domestically and abroad. 
The collaboration between Istituto Luce - Cinecittà and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dates back to the 1990s. The two organizations have presented many great exhibitions and tributes together, honoring Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Dante Ferretti, and Sophia Loren to name but a few.
Editor’s Note:
Four films directed by Federico Fellini won Academy Awards® for Best Foreign Language Film. He was nominated 12 times for directing and writing and, in 1992, received an Academy Honorary Award in recognition of his place as one of the screen’s master storytellers.
About the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
The Academy Museum will be the world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies. The Museum will be simultaneously immersive, experimental, educational, and entertaining. More than a museum, this dynamic film center will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into movies and moviemaking. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano, the Museum is restoring and revitalizing the historic Saban Building—formerly known as the May Company building (1939)—at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. The Saban Building will feature six floors, including exhibition spaces, the 288-seat Ted Mann Theater, an education studio, special event spaces, conservation areas, a café, and store. The new spherical addition will connect to the Saban Building via glass bridges and will feature the state-of-the-art 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and the rooftop Dolby Family Terrace with sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills.

The Campaign for the Academy Museum is headed by chair Bob Iger and co-chairs Annette Bening and Tom Hanks. These industry leaders join other generous philanthropists who have named spaces, including Cheryl and Haim Saban (The Saban Building), The David Geffen Foundation (The David Geffen Theater), Dalian Wanda Group (The Wanda Gallery), Rolex (Rolex Gallery), Dolby Laboratories/Family of Ray Dolby (The Dolby Family Terrace), The Walt Disney Company (The Walt Disney Company Piazza), Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg (The Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Gallery), Steven Spielberg (The Spielberg Family Gallery), Shirley Temple Black and Family (Shirley Temple Education Studio), Cecilia DeMille Presley (Founders Room), Gale Anne Hurd (Hurd Gallery), NBCUniversal, Netflix (Netflix Terrace), Participant Media, Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman (Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman Mezzanine), The Simms/Mann Family Foundation (Ted Mann Theater), Jeff Skoll, The Fran and Ray Stark Foundation, Warner Bros. Entertainment (The Warner Bros. Entertainment Gallery), Wasserman Foundation (Wasserman Bridge), and Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events LLC/Compass Group USA, Inc. The Academy Museum’s Digital Engagement Platform is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cristina Comencini's 'Tornare' to Close the 2019 Rome Film Festival

Tornare by Cristina Comencini will be the closing film of the 2019 Rome Film Fest. The highly anticipated new film by the Roman filmmaker is set in 1990s Naples. 

The film follows Alice, a forty-year old woman who returns from America after a lengthy absence when her father dies. Alice and her sister decide to sell the family home, but they must first clear it of the objects of a lifetime. Unexpectedly, Alice discovers that there is young and beautiful woman living in the house. The dialogue she begins with her is intense and promising, as is the bond she creates with Marc, a kind and fascinating man she meets at her father's memorial service. A new, intriguing and dangerous world takes shape around Alice, which sheds light on her past and her existence. The cast of Tornare includes Giovanna Mezzogiorno, who has worked with Cristina Comencini in the past in Don't Tell, and Vincenzo Amato (Respiro and Nuovomondo by Emanuele Crialese). The film is produced by Lumière & Co. with Rai Cinema and is distributed by Vision Distribution.

“I am honoured to close the Rome Film Fest with Cristina Comencini’s film - said Antonio Monda. “I admire the courage and honesty with which she portrays grief in the splendid setting of Naples seen as no one has ever shown it before in Italian cinema”.

The Rome Film Festival runs 17 – 27 October 2019. Click here for more information.

Tony Saccucci's 'La prima donna' to be a “Pre-opening” Film of the 14th Rome Film Fest

Licia Maglietta

On Monday October 14th at 8:30 pm, the Rome Film Fest will enter the concert hall of the Teatro dell'Opera for the world premiere screening of La prima donna, the new documentary film by Tony Saccucci starring Licia Maglietta. The screening is part of the programme of pre-opening events taking place ahead of the 14th Rome Film Fest, which will be held October 17 - 27, 2019.

Emma Carelli
In his sophomore film, Tony Saccucci – who directed Il pugile del duce, special mention at the Nastro d'Argento awards as Best Debut Film – tells the forgotten, rediscovered and shocking story of Emma Carelli, an absolute diva of the opera. Acclaimed worldwide in the early twentieth century, she was one of the first women managers in Italy as director of the Teatro Costanzi (today's Teatro dell'Opera in Rome) from 1912 to 1926. A soprano renowned in Italy, Europe and as far as South America, she triumphed as an impresario as well, in an environment dominated exclusively by men, headlining Picasso, the Ballets Russes and the Futurists in her theatre, for the first time in Italy.

Extremely popular yet innovative at the same time, a fearless, free and emancipated spirit, at a young age she demonstrated a character that allowed her to hold her own against her older colleagues and the competition of other theatres, including the feared maximum authority Maestro Arturo Toscanini and the head of the new regime, Benito Mussolini. This was a lot, and maybe even too much for a woman in that era. After reaching the apex of consideration in the public eye, during the Fascist period Emma Carelli soon came under fire from the private and political spheres. In 1926, the Government suddenly dismissed her as the director of her theatre, because – reads a report written by the Fascist secret police – "as a woman she has developed an independent character that leads to her to feel superior to everyone else". As Italy headed towards the authoritarian regime, Carelli witnessed the end of her theatre, her marriage, her role as a protagonist of the musical world. She died a terrible death in 1928, the year that broke all records in the history of Italy for the number of suicides by women.

La prima donna by Tony Saccucci – produced by the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà in collaboration with the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma – tells this story of inequality and violence against women relying on never seen before original documents, texts, photographs and audio recordings, valuable images from important national and foreign archives - first and foremost the immense Luce Historic Archives – and silent films used as narrative material. All of this is edited with original footage shot inside the temple of the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome, where Emma Carelli is played by Italian outstanding actress Licia Maglietta.

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...