The “Starring Europe” Film Festival this year took place in Los Angeles from May the 9th until May the 15th, a creative project organized by the diplomatic institutions of the EU Countries in Los Angeles, in particular by the Consulate General of Italy together with the Italian Cultural Institute, and by The American Cinematheque.
The Festival’s goal is to expand the knowledge of European movies into the United States. The Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles has been instrumental in promoting Italian productions and strongly supports their further expansion in the West Coast: “Starring Europe is an opportunity for international cinema lovers in the city to discover contemporary award winning films from across Europe. We have involved other Italian realities present on the territory, organizing events, workshops, in order to promote and preserve our Italian culture and products in the United States and the world” Consul General Antonio Verde explained.
Now in its fourth edition, “Starring Europe” has brought to Hollywood, the best contemporary films from the European Union, and gave audience the possibility to interact with filmmakers and actors from the movies to be screened. The short and feature films screened at the festival embody the rich heritage and diversity of contemporary cinema from Europe featuring Seven Los Angeles Premieres, Six films by women directors, Two Oscar winning directors and Two Student Oscar winning directors.
This year Italy has had the honor to close the Festival with the independent movie, “Our Last”
This year Italy has had the honor to close the Festival with the independent movie, “Our Last”. The movie tells the story of a journey which follows two brothers in conflict. When their mother suddenly dies, the two, struck by guilt and remorse, decide to fulfill her last wish to visit Sicily all together, and make their final family vacation an impromptu road trip with her coffin tied to the roof of their car. The experience will uncover all the complexity of their relationship.
The 4th Annual STARRING EUROPE: New Films from the EU Festival provides an opportunity to Angelinos to immerse in Award-Winning European Cinema, connect with European filmmakers and talent, network with industry professionals, explore cultural institutions from European countries in LA and to unite through the power of movies. Starring Europe is also the cultural event that unites expats and artists from all over Europe with language students from local colleges and universities and Angelinos.
Ludovico Di Martino and the lead actor Guglielmo Poggi, (“Best Actor” at the Milan International Film Festival in 2016 - Best Acting Performance, Da Vinci’s Horse MIFF Award), attended the screening at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. L’Italo-Americano had the opportunity to ask them a few questions.
This event was strongly promoted by the Consul General of Italy in LA, Antonio Verde. How did you react to his determination to bring the European cinema and particularly to represent Italy with your movie, here in the United States?
“We were extremely proud. We are very young and new in this business. To be here after just three years with this project thanks to the efforts of Consul General, means two things: first, there is the chance to give young people an opportunity and second, we must have done something right. Maybe it’s not the Italian or American film industry style, but it’s an independent production trying to find its space” Poggi commented.
“This is beyond our movie itself. To bring a small film like ours here is more of a political matter. The satisfaction comes from what we represent. We are a symbol, a smaller reality compared to the Italian film production and distribution, but we were at the Festival and this is all thanks to the Consul General Verde who decided make our voice heard. There is more to it than the big production movies and the Italian directors we all know about” director Ludovico Di Martino added.
Italy has always excelled in many fields, including cinema. What was the impact that Italian movies have had and still have in the world?
"Italian films have influenced authors from all over the world. Charlie Kaufman, a great director and screenwriter who has trouble working today, once said, "It's hard for me to make a movie today, even though in Hollywood it feels like everyone is always saying, 'Oh, it's a fantastic movie, totally done Charlie Kaufman style'>> this is the anthem of Italian cinema, we are just used as a comparison, we are something so big that is not able to emerge. We are a very provincial country, everything coming from the outside, it’s too big for us. We are small men certain to be giants, but in the real world, nobody sees us” Di Martino said “We don’t export much. In our (Italian) reality we are something, but outside there is an idea of the Commedia all’Italiana from 20 years ago. We are frozen, but we have been influenced too much by the american culture, full of methods, competition, industry. There isn’t a Monicelli anymore who talks to the crew, the actors. Now an Italian director’s biggest goal is to go to work in America. We are not improving in this way, we could improve more if we would go back to what we really were” The actor continued.
According to you how important is it to export Italian cinema and why?
"We have a renowned sensibility," Guglielmo replied. "Italy, compared to other cultures, is perhaps one of the most visible in America. That is why I think it is essential to bring back something that has been lost. Before we talked about normal and simple people. We talked about the real lives of ordinary and authentic people. We all built the cinema together and this is what made Americans fall in love with Italian cinema."
Back to the movie, you investigate in the dynamics of a mother and son relationship, the deep loss and the strong tie to the maternal figure, very Italian. Was it ever overwhelming to deal with such a topic?
“The story came very spontaneously maybe because it’s so eradicated into our culture.” The director commented “That’s also why it was so easy to develop the theme. It just came naturally. It was a painful journey to write it and put myself into the characters’ shoes. I haven’t experienced this kind of loss, fortunately, so it was even harder for me to imagine that kind of pain and make it real”.
“I haven’t experienced it either” Guglielmo continued “Actually the actress who plays the mother in the movie is my own mother. The most sensitive part was Fabrizio Colica’s. His mother has a motor illness and she is in a wheelchair, so he was the one who really felt this kind of pain, in a certain way. I felt responsible as a person more than as an actor. I wanted to give this loss the respect it deserves”