Florence 12th - 19th November 2011

International documentary film festival

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Presentations of 2011 Edition

Maria Bonsanti

Alberto Lastrucci

In the last years the Festival dei Popoli has been gradually re-launched and we hope to be able to continue in this direction, as we have always been firmly convinced that the primary, main peculiarity of the Festival is its international dimension. When we became the new directors of the Festival, we first asked ourselves what was the main task we had been given: our reply is that we should do our best in order for the Festival dei Popoli to keep on somehow anticipating times, as it has always done since its foundation in 1959. It is necessary to keep on looking ahead and, as a result, to give voice to the various situations and to the many ideas described and put forward in documentary films. We want to explore the whole of the territory of documentary cinema and to give an overview not only of its center, but also of its borderlands.

This is why we decided to consider the Festival as a sort of laboratory, a space where the documentary is constructed and deconstructed. First of all, we made a very precise choice for the retrospective: Isaki Lacuesta, a young author who can already boast a great number of works, has always challenged himself by constantly reworking his own material, from which he gets every time new inspiration and ideas. Speaking of reworking, we are happy to open the festival with the special projection of Chronique d’un film. 52 years later, Edgar Morin will come back to Florence to present a project on which he is collaborating with three video artists, who have had the opportunity to re-edit unused material of Chronique d’un été. The latter had its genesis right here in Florence, during the first edition of the Festival, when the great French sociologist was a member of the jury, together with – among others – Jean Rouch. From the birth of modern documentary to an open cinema which revises the past and absorbs it to create a work of art that is difficult to classify.

At the border between creation and memory is also the new initiative Storie Mobili, in which the Festival will act as co-producer: during the first two days of the Festival, the spectators of the Cinema Odeon will be interviewed and asked about their cinema memories linked to their attendance of the cinemas in the center. One of the interviews will then be projected during the award ceremony. All our efforts have been directed towards attracting as many professionals as possible to Florence during the Festival, in order for the town to speak for eight days the language of documentary. Our efforts are obviously reinforced by the renewed collaboration with the Italian Doc Screenings, the Italian documentary market – four days in which experts discuss the cinema of the future.

The Festival-laboratory is also and above all enriched by its collaborations: after four years, the partnership with CCC Strozzina is strengthened, giving origin to a special section, which includes three documentaries and focuses on the subject of the exhibition Declining Democracy (taking place in Palazzo Strozzi): rethinking democracy between utopia and participation. The same topics are also addressed in two very rare films from our archives, which we will show in the section Adotta un doc. The idea of the Festival as a place of debate and exchange becomes a reality through the many common threads characterizing the various sections of the festival. Ten years after 9/11, in the year of the Arab Spring, we constantly received new inputs to think about rebellion, pacifism and dissidence (in particular in the USA, yesterday and today), so these topics are inevitably present also in the films we selected. In the section Panorama we present a work in progress which takes us back to 9/11, the starting point of our considerations – thus creating a circle, in terms of both contents and structure. Another strong presence in the films of the Festival – maybe not by chance, given that we speak of utopia, thus of future – are teen-agers, portrayed in a new way in the competitions. The mirror represented by the screen will reflect the other face of an age which is often described through clichés. I will stop here: these are only a couple of the common threads you can find in our program…and since I mentioned the idea of participation, every spectator will have the task – and hopefully the pleasure – to find other threads!

To conclude, one last note: what you will see is the result of wonderful and enthusiastic teamwork. At least in our own small way, participation is not a utopia!

Maria Bonsanti
Co-director of the Festival dei Popoli

Exploring the territory of documentary cinema was the founding principle of the Festival dei Popoli and it is still so today. This edition is directed by Maria Bonsanti, whom I consider a travelling companion, and myself, but we would like to thank all our collaborators for their precious contribution. Together we decided to venture to the limits of this surprising continent, in order to explore its borderlands, as well as the points of contact and exchange between the documentary and the other film genres: fictional film, animation, experimental cinema.

During the months of preparation of the festival it was the subject itself of our analysis which aroused our curiosity for this type of research and forced us to go in this direction. A huge number of works were not only extremely interesting from a narrative point of view, but they were also characterized by a very original language, which was specially elaborated to express new concepts. The results of this search looked surprising to us and we hope that they can fascinate the audience just like they conquered us.

It is astonishing to look at the results achieved in the attempt to measure how big the “territory” of documentary cinema and how varied its geography can be. Despite remaining in the final analysis an essentially cinematographic thing, the documentary reveals a very close relationship with the whole of narrative: it can be a novel, a journal, a novella, a fairy tale, a poem, a socioeconomic essay, a treatise on geopolitics, a history book, a photo album, an atlas – all this and much more.

The protagonists of the films who will appear one after the other on screen come to my mind in a multitude of faces, eyes, words, sounds of languages never heard before, gestures made only once in life or a hundred times in a day. All of these have once and for all been donated through cinema to collective memory, to the memory of all of us. These protagonists make up a gallery of human types not to be missed: if you allow them to do so, they will become part of your memories, of your imagery, as if you had really met them. Whatever their age, social status, geographical origin, these people all have one thing in common: they consider themselves inhabitants of this planet and they are the proud protagonists of their lives turned into stories. A truth that permeates all of these films is that it is in human nature not to stop in front of any frontier – be it the borders established by nations or the even more damaging limitations imposed on creativity, knowledge and freedom. The peoples of the world have a natural disposition to mix with one another, an instinct to merge with one another in order to always create new combinations. Any attempt to go against this natural law is destined in the long term to become only a short, annoying, yet insignificant pause; a slowing down in what is actually a perpetual flow, an unstoppable beat, perfectly inscribed in the order of things.

We could not have been any luckier: we found the symbol which epitomizes all this with clarity and elegance. I am referring to the picture chosen for the 52nd edition. It is the priceless gift of an artist – indeed without borders – we met when we presented the Festival dei Popoli in New York: Maria Antonietta Mameli, author of the work which you can admire in the poster and a good friend of our festival.

Alberto Lastrucci
Co-director of the Festival dei Popoli