San Diego Italian Film Festival Shares An Activist Perspective
Festival launches online for films every week in October
San Diego Italian Film Festival (SDIFF) will spread out this year's "feStivale 2020" across the month of October with films and discussions every week.
SDIFF has made activism this year’s theme.
"So, we selected the movies, having in mind this general theme activism," said Antonio Iannotta, SDIFF's artistic director. "This year is an election year so we really believe that everybody needs to do their part. But our movies are not going to be just about politics or immigration, but also about art, also about disability, also about gender inequality, also about inclusion in all our movies."
There was a launch party this past weekend but "feStivale 2020" begins in earnest Thursday with a film titled "It Will Be Chaos," which seems all too fitting in this year of a pandemic and social unrest.
"We thought that this was the perfect movie with the perfect title to start this particular festival," Iannotta said.
Festival Executive Director Diana Agostini points to another film with a title that challenges you, "Normal."
"It asks what is normal anymore? But also it touches upon a concept of normality related to gender stereotypes in Italy," Agostini said. "And we loved that movie. It's very experimental. It's a totally different experience also. So our audience really needs to go into it, having not just an open mind but just thinking, 'OK, this is going to be something that I would not expect from a normal movie.'"
Challenging audiences to embrace the unconventional is key to the Italian Film Festival.
The film "Michelangelo Infinito," for example, shatters the traditional documentary form in order to create a dynamic portrait of the influential Renaissance artist. It comes from the same producer as "Caravaggio: The Soul and the Blood," another innovative portrait of an artist that played at an earlier SDIFF.
"Art has the power to transform our lives and as also the power to transform an artist's life," Iannotta said. "And we are going to see and experience that for Michelangelo for this movie. So what we're going to see with Michelangelo is it is a sort of documentary biopic reinvented."
And redefining what an Italian perspective can be is a film about a Moslem man called "Bangla."
"It deals with identity, identity in terms of where your traditions from your family are, where you're born, where do you feel you belong and the struggle between that," Agostini said.
It brings the idea of activism to a personal, everyday level, "which is what we hope our audience can also take out of this," Agostini added.
In addition to the films, which are available Thursday through Saturday for the next five weeks, there will also be a Zoom discussion each following Sunday morning. The early start is to allow filmmakers with a nine-hour time difference in Italy to join the conversation. The festival will also slip into November with its Ristretto Awards on Nov. 8. The awards are given to films in its short film showcase that is available throughout October online.
I was one of the judges for the Ristretto Awards and I was greatly impressed by the films selected. They range from an emotional documentary made by a daughter about her father's battle with cancer ("Rebirth") to a soccer match that redefines what being Italian means ("World Cup in a Square") to a gorgeous black and white exploration of a piece of Italian history ("Rifugi") to superheroes ("Thunderbolts and Lightning Strikes") and possibly demons ("Nature's Crime").