The International Critics week at the Venice International Film Festival, which ended September 10th, was created to raise the standard of film criticism and provide the opportunity to experience films with innovative stories and style. Massimo Andrei's Mater Natura
was one of nine films selected for this section. The story features transvestites and MTF transgenders who set up an "agrifuturism" colony outside Naples with Trans-Vesuvian counseling. An important background to this is the story of an MTF transgender who falls in love with a heterosexual man engaged to be married. To remedy the tragedy that later occurs, the Trans-Vesuvian counselors urge hetero men to go back to their families. The actors of this film are all from the theater and may seem to overact but the story was authentic and sincere with a rich tableau of colorful art direction.
Now for some other films at the festival . . .
John Irvin's The Fine Art of Love
was the only film to deal with lesbian relationships at the festival. But it’s amazing that the director and actors were unable to acknowledge the subject matter at the press conference. Jacqueline Bissett plays a strict and cold headmistress of a school for young woman who learn the fine arts such as theater, poetry and ballet. The opening shot with art direction by Dante Ferretti, president of the jury for the international competition, requires comment. For anyone enthralled by ballet take a look at the bloodied slippers of a dancer learning to execute the moves featured in the opening shots. Unfortunately some of the scenes of the movie put lesbian iconography back to the days of The Fox
and The Killing of Sister George
. But one of the saving virtues of the film is the performance by Jacqueline Bissett, who told me her character was “beyond guilt” in allowing the atrocities to take place in the wounding of female spirit.
I chanced upon an exquisite film with exceptional cinematography and story in one of the smaller theaters at the festival -- Zaire, Rider of the Atlas
by Bourlem Guerdjou, a German/French co-production. This is the story of a young Moroccan girl who rejoins her biological father after her mother's death. The abusive boyfriend who kept them both locked up is determined to regain custody of her. Later to free herself from him Zaire enters a horse disguised as a boy in a race her mother won twelve years before - and was disqualified from for being a woman.
Takashi Miike's out-of-competition film The Great Yokai War
(Yokai daisens) is an epic and spectacular science fiction story based on Japanese mythology about goblins, or yokai. A cute and enchanted cat-like pet called a Sunekosuri is one of the colorful creatures that go through a powerful and tragic metamorphosis in the film’s cliffhanger climax. Ten-year-old Tadashi (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is chosen to be the "Kirin Rider," a distinction entitling him to obtain the great sword guarded by the Great Goblin of the Mountain. The film was very loud, with many special effects, an assortment of yokai goblins and a cast of hundreds refreshingly with no digital replication.
Ant that’s it for now from the Venice Film Festival
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Venice Italy
© 2005 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 10/05
62nd Venice International Film Festival, Report 3