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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Conversations with the Women Directors of the 2021 Rochester Independent Global Film Series' Italian Section

It was such a pleasure for me to curate the Italian Section of the Rochester Independent Global Film Series. Our final lineup features six films, four of which are directed by women. 

I am grateful for the time they took to do Q & A's with me and to answer my questions about the creative choices that went into making their beautiful, compelling films. Below are links to those conversations, which are now posted on YouTube.

Veronica Spedicati

Veronica Spedicati's short film "Il Nostro Tempo" (Our Time) was her final project for film school at Rome's Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. The film was a huge success for her, making its festival premiere at the 2019 Venice Film Festival in the Settimana della Critica section where she was awarded Best Director.

The film follows nine-year-old Roberta who just wants to enjoy the last days of summer on the beach playing with her friends. Instead, her father forces her to stay at home to help with household chores. When Roberta realizes that her father's health is declining, she stops resenting him and begins to appreciate their time together.

In this interview, I talk with Spedicati about many aspects of the film, including the location, casting and plot. She is a very young director but mature beyond her years. It was such a pleasure to talk with her. 

Watch our interview..

Emanuela Mascherini

Emanuela Mascherini works as an actress and director. She graduated in Acting at the Experimental Center of Cinematography in Rome and earned a Diploma in Digital Filmmaking as a director at the New York Film Academy in New York. She also earned a degree in Theories and Techniques of Film Language at the University of Florence and has written several books.

Her works have been selected and awarded in several national and international film Festivals, including the selection of the Nastri D’Argento and the selection of David di Donatello Shortlist. In 2019, she won the RIFF - Rome Independent Film Festival with the feature's script "Between the Lines" and she was selected by EFA European Film Award and Toscana Film commission for the Residency, “A Sunday in the country.” 

She also collaborates and has been member of the jury or president of the jury in several international festivals, including the Mostra del Cinema di Venezia for the Lino Miccichè Award and many others. She is the founder of the Festival CineAtelier, which showcases first and second feature films. 

Her latest film, "Come la prima volta" (Like the First Time) is the heartfelt story of a devoted husband who is trying to preserve the memory of his wife who no longer recognizes him. She is suffering from dementia and he sees her fading away.

In this interview, Mascherini and I talk about this reoccurring theme in her films of interpersonal relationships and her innate ability to empathize with people of all ages. She also talks about the true stories that inspired the film.

Emanuela Ponzano

Born in Brussels, Emanuela Ponzano is an actress and director in both cinema and theater. She divides her time working mainly between Rome, Paris and Brussels. 

In 1995, having completed her degree in Political Science at the ULB in Brussels, she decided to dedicate herself completely to theater and film. She studied dramatic arts at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège with Jacques Delcuvellerie (Groupov- Rwanda 94-Ecole des Maitres) and Max Parfondry, where she attained the diploma de Premier Prix in June 2000. 

In 2008 she won the National Artistic Prize for theatre "Filomena Carrara" in Abruzzo, Italy with her show "The Stronger" by August Strindberg dedicated to Ingmar Bergman. Then in 2008, she directed two short films "Bagnasciuga" and "Riflessi" that have since been shown at many national and international festivals. 

Ponzano's 2016 film, "The Sled," is the story of Alfred, a young boy who lives with his family in the mountains of Italy.  His parents have strong prejudices against immigrants. Bored and unhappy, they often quarrel, and they pay little attention to their son, usually disregarding his needs for affection. One day, during a journey through the woods, Alfred comes across a wooden sled and its owner, a young boy from another country who seems strange and different. After an initial clash, in which they project the prejudices of their parents and society onto each other, they start to relate to each other and understand each other’s problems. 

We spoke a number of times about this film and I saw it in the region of Basilicata in 2016 where it was shot. During our recent conversation, we talked about social issues that inspired her to tell this story and the physical attributes of Basilicata that led to her to shoot there. 

Angela Bevilacqua

Born in Naples in 1996, Angela Bevilacqua studies cinema and television production at the Accademia Delle Belle Arti Di Napoli but even before enrolling, she was well on her way to becoming a gifted storyteller and filmmaker.  She made her first short film when she was just 17-years-old. "Il teatro dei ricordi" (The Theater of Memories) stars Alessia Alciati and veteran French actor Jean Sorel who is known for his role opposite Claudia Cardinale in Luchino Visconti's 1965 "Sandra." An ambitious first effort, the film premiered as a Special Event at the 2014 Giffoni Film Festival.

Three years later, Bevilacqua published her first novel La Città del Vizio (The City of Vice), a thriller that explores a personification of the Seven Deadly Sins as they are misguided by the Devil to a supposed place of material and spiritual delight called, The City of Vice. 

Last year, she released her second short film, "L'Attesa," (The Wait), the suspenseful story of a mother who is frantically trying to locate her son after she hears about a terrorist attack in London where he is studying abroad. The 24-minute film is carried entirely by actress Lucianna De Falco who gives an articulate performance filled with a whole host of emotions that reels you right into the fear and dread she is experiencing.

Watch a clip from our brief interview at the 2019 Rome Independent Film Festival where we first saw "L'Attesa."

All films are available through Sunday at midnight (Pacific Time). Click here to stream them. 

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