Special Report By Moira Sullivan
This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International reporting to you from Venice Italy. The work of many talented directors was showcased during the 57th Venice International Film Festival that ended this weekend. This years entries powerfully demonstrate new territories and new voices in film art.
As predicted by the critics, the coveted Golden Lion award went to Jafar Panahi from Iran for Dayereh , in English, 'The Circle'. This film presents the story of eight women whose lives form a circle of oppression and who live in the conditions of a police state under Islamic rule in Iran. Director Panahi was asked repeatedly if he could go home now, having visually exposed the elephant in the dining room of his country. He explained he got his visa to leave and the award will bring him home. Panahi claims that money or a budget is not the problem for making films for him, it is having a story to tell. And this is a story that reaches deep into the soul of human consciousness.
The Grand Jury Prize of the festival went to Julian Schnabel of the US for Before Night Falls , a film on the exiled gay Cuban poet and novelist Renaldo Arenas. The best actor award of the festival when to Javier Bardem for his role as Arenas, who powerfully played the poet who was allowed by Castro, as other gays, to leave Cuba in the 1980’s. Schnabel previously directed Basquiat , on New York artist Jean Michel Basquiat who died of drugs.
In Clara Law’s The Goddess of 1967 , a Japanese man comes to Australia to buy the car of his dreams, a 1967 Citroen only to find that the owner has died. He then embarks on an erotic adventure in the Australian desert with a 17 -year old blind girl played by Rose Byrne who won the festival best actress award. Law, a Hong Kong director now resides in Melbourne.
Liam directed by Stephen Frears who also directed Fail Safe and The Grifters tells the story of a working class Irish Catholic family growing up in Liverpool, seen through the eyes of 7- year old Liam superbly acted by Anthony Borrows. Actress Megan Burns received the Marcello Mastroianni award of the festival for her role as Liam’s sister.
Other films not winning awards demonstrate the brilliant diversity of the selected festival entries.
Sally Potter’s new film The Man Who Cried starring Christina Ricci and John Turturro is about a Jewish girl who is separated from her father and eventually led to Hollywood to find him. Cinematographer Sacha Vierney used a digital technique which allows images to soften and really look like the 1930’s. Potter attempts to show a portrait of a young women jolted by geographical displacement who in the process loses her voice and then rediscovers it though music. The director has won the heart of Venice since her brilliant film Orlando premiered in 1991.
Another cooky twist as far as film subjects is Italian Roberta Torre’s musical comedy Sud Side Stori or 'South Side Story'. A pastiche of colorful Fellini like images, Torre made this as a spoof of West Side Story . This time the setting is in Palermo Italy where Toni, a white street singer falls for Romea, a Nigerian girl who works as a prostitute.
Next week, I will talk about some more films and report on the closing of the Venice International Film Festival, the oldest and most prestigious film festival in Europe. And as other film festivals today it is now in a state of flux as a result of the digital revolution
This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Venice, Italy.
© 2000 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 10/00
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