Annuaire boutique
Librairie Lis-Voir






The 2003 Venice Film Festival (c) D.R. THE 2003

Par Rachael JOHNSON

Despite its dubious origins as a propaganda showcase for Mussolinis Italy, the Venice Film Festival enjoys a well-deserved reputation for having a strong political and social conscience. The Mostra of 2003 is no exception. The most intriguing italian films shown at the festival Segreti di stato and Buongiorno, notte, directed by Paolo Benvenuti and Marco Bellocchio respectively, are deeply political. Segreti di stato, a forensic examination of a massacre of Sicilian communists in 1947 which boldly implicates the Mafia, the Italian government, the Pope and Harry S Truman is historically fascinating if somewhat aesthetically disappointing. Buongiorno, notte, one of the best and most critically acclaimed films of the festival, is the far more accomplished film. An evocative and spell-binding account of the Œanni de piombo, or Œthe years of the bullet, when the Red Brigade movement was at its height, it tells the extraordinary true story of the abduction and murder of Italian prime minister, Aldo Moro. There were other politically motivated and historically important films from other parts of the world at the Mostra such as the sensual and suggestive Pornografia, an atmospheric literary adaptation set in second world war Poland and Rosenstrasse, a completely conventional but well-intentioned work by the feminist German director Margarethe von Trotta which examined the little-known story of German women who protested the persecution of their Jewish husbands in the Nazi era.

  (c) D.R.

One of the most beautiful- and critically acclaimed- political films of the festival, however, was Le Cerf-Volant, a lyrical love story between a young Lebanese girl and Arab Israel soldier set on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Jacques Doillons Raja offered another a which offers another portrait of young Arab womanhood. A more masculinist- and inferior- film, Raja is nevertheless endowed with a breath-taking central performance. Personifying the passion, anger and humanity of a young Arab girl in post-colonial Morocco, the unknown Najat Bessalem shines in the role of Raja (and won the Marcello Mastroianni prize at the Mostra). Watching the heroine head-butt her useless boyfriend is a joy to behold.

The worst political film at the Mostra was Imagining Argentina. Adapted from an American magical realist novel which recounts the persecution of left-wing activists in Fascist Argentina of the 1970s and 1980s, marrying graphic scenes of torture with utterly daft fantastical moments, Imagining Argentina is completely irresponsible- and almost beyond description. More happily, two very different American directors enjoyed considerable success with their documentary films. In Persona Non Grata, Oliver Stone takes us on an energetic foray into Palestine et procures some fascinating interviews with both sides of the conflict- including the Al Aqsa Brigade, Hamas and the Israeli government. Jonathan Demmes The Agronomist is an intelligent and powerful portrait of Jean Dominique, an extraordinary Haitian journalist who fought courageously for press freedom in his country. Indeed many of the documentaries at the Mostra such as Persona Non Grata, The Agrononomist and Gulu (a sociological and political study of a town in war-torn Uganda by Italian director Luca Zingaretti) were far more challenging and fascinating than many of the narrative films.