Florence 10th - 17th November 2012

International documentary film festival

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This website provides accurate descriptions of the 74 films on show at this 53rd edition of the Festival dei Popoli. I am sure that each one of these films has what it takes to awaken passions and interest. The choice is vast, we are aware of it, so you are strongly invited to choose according to your taste – and why not – your instinct, and design your own programme.

An “ideal day” for the festival’s audience might include the following: repeats of the shortlisted films scheduled in the morning at the Odeon for those of you who missed them the previous day. At midday join the Free Speech in the Caffè Letterario delle Murate: a meeting – devoid of excessive formalities – with the festival’s guests. Directors will be exchanging ideas on their work, sharing experiences and comparing viewpoints. Believe me: listening to them laying down the basis for future cinema is an opportunity you just can’t miss. Later on in the afternoon and evening, screenings will be held in three cinemas, which have been chosen because of their excellent location at short walking distance from one another: the Odeon, Spazio Uno and the French Institute. These venues share not only a convenient setting, but also a passion for culture. At the centre of this triangle you can admire the magnificent Palazzo Strozzi, now harbouring the exhibit within the Strozzina – the centre for Contemporary Culture, Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art. The Festival dei Popoli also offers a section by the title “Related to Me - Body, memory and identity” as a further contribution to the themes tackled in this exhibition. For those who wish to continue the walk and cross the river, Tethys Gallery in via Maggio stages a photography exhibition organized together with the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation of Europe, with splendid portraits of the Presidents of the United States taken by Harry Benson.

Let me reveal a small trick of the trade: to prepare the programme we usually use a tool that has become indispensable to us. We have a chart on the wall, divided in sections. We prefer a thick piece of cardboard, felt-tip pens, duct tape and coloured pieces of paper rather than ultra-flat computer touch-screens. Day after day pieces of paper bearing the titles of selected films are put on the programmer, moved around or taken off. The funny thing is that the films themselves start communicating in a colourful pattern of links and intersections. This is why I often stand and contemplate them, making my colleagues laugh. I try to place each film as if it were a musical note on a score. This adds to the value of the festival, which is not only based on the high standards required of each film (this year we received 1,600 entries for the competition) but the choices for the entire programme, which needs to be harmonious and sufficiently varied. Let yourselves be tempted by this flow of images, music, words, landscapes and cultural references: you’ll see the picture gradually coming to life into a multi-faceted and essential portrait of present times.

The specific circumstances that were the background for the preparation of this edition deserve mentioning. It is in fact a unique setting. The programme of the 53rd Festival dei Popoli is the fruit of the collaboration between Maria Bonsanti, the new director of the Cinéma du Réel in Paris, Carlo Chatrian, the new director of the Festival del Film in Locarno and the solid team working behind the scenes of the Festival dei Popoli. I believe that directors of European film festivals have rarely worked together on the same project. As well as renewing my congratulations to Maria and Carlo for the important tasks they have been entrusted to, I like to think that our team will continue to work together on an even larger scale.

Alberto Lastrucci
Director of the Festival dei Popoli