Organizing film societies worldwide...


Zlinfest 2004, diary by Domenico Farina, Italy

Don Quijote winner Zlin 2004 Planta 4a, Spain

Zlin, diary of a Festival May the 30th 2004 First day, the day of moving. Is always the most strange. Wake up at absurd times, reach Rome from Termoli (270 Km in more than 3 hours), check in, then, after other time, the start for Prague. Not for my guilt the flight is in a little late…but just from the beginning the reception is good. A very kind driver, Roman, is waiting for me in the airport and witnesses the great powers of the organization. A saloon car will transport me to Zlin. During the trip we try to talk, in the beginning is not going well but, in the end, using a patch English and the immortal sign language, we are able to chat in some way. At the arrival, around 1 a.m. I am introduced to Marek Turna (the one who will take care of me and the other guests), with his parterre of secretaries, among them I quick know, with great competence and sympathy Kamila Xenia Vetiskova, Monika Strykova and Marcela Lhotska. Also meets me an interpreter, Jana, who shows an amazing Italian. All of them say welcome to me, for the festival and in the city. Chatting, no words about the first drinks, 2,30 a.m. is not so difficult to reach. Finally i go to my hotel, but first i am chilled by “tragic” news, the next wake up is for 8,10 a.m., just to be ready at 9 o’ clock in the morning. So in bed, quick!

May the 31st 2004 Opening day of the Festival. It takes place from 44 years, is dedicated to youth and children and is in a renouving phase. The organization has some changes. The first impression is that the structure has great means. Is confirmed by the large quantity of press releases, of course this not means to avoid to see the movies. The president is mr. Viteslav Jandak a very famous actor here. First of all I had met my jury’s pal. A kind and pleasant Estonian lady, m.me Svea Pillau and the local member miss Jitka Kralicova, well prepared lady, and, even if so young, made strong by the experience of having four children. Maybe I feel myself like a child between two mothers. Starting to learn Czech (in not a very good way), and taking a glance (of course not disinterested) to the remarkable local beauties, that always makes happy the eye of the voyager, we are ready to see the first two movies of the day: “Le Papillon”, that is not, but is logical, Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman and “Thirteen”, movie that not needs to explain because is a feature known all over the world. Maybe both are a little bit too long (or this is the feeling that they gave). Of course they are different one from the other, even for the destination target, even for the way to tell the story. The French one is classical in all its structures, linear (maybe too much) but has a worth to not using a lot the great sympathy of the little main character, and, and the same time, to using well his lead big actor, the well known Michel Serrault. The American one is for sure modern cinema that tells a story of youth difficulties , of a young American girl, daughter of divorced parents in a movie where the male figures are absents and escaping. Maybe is decisive that the director is a woman and that, also, the story is inspired by the true story of one of the co protagonists, Nikki Red, who has the role of a “poison ivy” that is not looking and is not offering salvation. Fleeting saffic kisses (but of course the most remarkble is the one in, for other reasons forgettable, “Cruel Intentions”) and a mentioned morbidness in the interpersonal relationships, of course in a feminine way to see, if you consider that also the boys are drawn no more than sex toys, to use and throw away. Maybe Rachel (Evan Rachel Wood) is trying to communicate, is not experienced in this, maybe the listeners are not experienced and, at the end, she takes refugee in self lesions and in shoplifting for retake the material goods that the consumer society imposes as salvations for the being of the average consumer (we are all monkeys…cfr. “12 Monkeys” by Terry Gilliam). The movie for me is good, even if, some kind of troubles, in a growing capitalism country are not full perceptible. Luckily. In the evening we are waited by the Israeli movie “Bonjour, Monsieur Shlomi” and the German “Solo Album”. In the first case draft of one pleasant commedia of the life, that it maintains with various elements, balancing them and not turning out perfectly neither too much tedious neither excessive voted to the comic depositor. To my opinion one of best films of the festival until this moment. The second movie (Solo Album) it is a very funny comedy gradevole, if it wants also pleasantly crude in some passages, on one pseudo pompous German editor of a musical newspaper (one species of Rolling Stone Magazine), abandoned, via SMS, from his gourgeous 19 years old girl. The rhythm of the film is highest and pleasant, a true surprise that could work well also outside from the Germanic area, we hope that some distributor can notice it, because it has optimal commercial potentialities. The cinematographic evening is closed here, however a great show still attends us, one pyrotechnical with laser beams and music from film and an incredible party. Every occasion seems good in order to make party (and obviously us it does not seem the case to complain ourselves)

June the 1st 2004 Enough heavy day. Alarm clock to the 7,10, four films to follow and the encounter with the president of festival Mr. Viteslav Jandak, always assisted by the most efficient "boiling ice" Kamila, and with the aid of Marek Turna. In opening "The Sensational Six", Indian film perhaps too much for children, that also suffers from one approximate recitation, evidently artificial settings (inner) and from a too much simple weft. The proof that at least in Europe cannot work is given from the absence of laughs from part of the main adresses, the children in the cinema, quite silent. Only cinephile note of interest is to have called the villain Don Douglas, choosing an actor who remembers, vaguely, the great Kirk. It is continued with "Spravce Statku" (The Farmkeeper), first film of the Czech Republic in our competence section. The history is not most original and, if you want, it can remember the Pasolini’s “Teorema”. Naturally in this case the mysterious visitor (that it appears and disappears in the beginning and at the end of the movie, in an esoteric way) tip not to disintegrate the familiar nucleus but, to the contrary, the rebuilt it. Some amusing moments do not lack, but in the complex the movie remains on the railroads of a good normality. Lunch pause and run again in the cine in order to follow "Zafir", Danish film directed by Malene Vilstrup, on one helped interracial and inter-religious friendship helped from the presence of the horse Zafir. Much more interesting the successive "Progulka" (The Stroll), experiment on the roads of a sunny Saint Petersburg, that hides a enough surprising end. What it strikes is the use of the hand camera for 95% of the film, with the actors who improvise, in enough convincing way, between the crowd. Ok, it is true that the experiment of a film entire in piano sequenza is not a innovation, however the all thing stays up in spontaneous and agreeable way. With this film our June the first is closed. The evening, for the jury, turns aside from Zlin and is moved in the characteristic city of Kromeriz, for a visit to the local institutions. In this time we make the acquaintance of Michal Prochazka, a young and intelligent local journalist (interested to the Italian neorealismo), member of the media partner of the Festival and the silent and enigmatic Jindra Veselska. The evening continues with deepened cine-politics disquisitions until we re-enter in Zlin.

June the 2nd 2004 The previous night is not ended soon, but the awakening is incontrovertible. The first screening is at 8,15 a.m., therefore, for being presentables and to succeed also to ingest something there is a single remedy: the alarm clock to the 7,10 a.m.! The first movie, is the Swede "Leontamjaren" (Strong As To Lion), a film that slides via enough calmly (considered the hour is already a lot!), on the familiar situations in Sweden nowadays and on the problem, always present to every latitude, of the microviolence in scholastic within. Surely forgettable is instead the Canadian "Daniel and the superdog", a film that at a distance of some day does not leave already memories meant to you. Much advanced one, but of the rest addresses to a public different, is "Tael Til 100" (Count To 100), another Danish film, once again (like the Swedish one) focused on one family split, but this time with a more violent and dangerous father. Last film in order today is "Bare Bea" (Just Bea), amusing commedia of good feelings on the importance of the "first time" with the just person, that it not is said is by force that one that appeals to our friends. Tomorrow will be the last day of visions, once again the alarm clock is fixed soon, therefore also the night must necessarily be not too much long. But we succeed to participate to the party of this evening (would have been discourteous to miss it.....) and to exit of all by the way unharmed...:)

June the 3rd 2004 The last one, indeed penultimate early riser. There are only three scheduled films today. First of all there is "Udensbumba resnajam runcim" (Water Bomb For The Fat Tomcat), than it is not at all badly. It is a Latvian film, with two good and miniturized interpreters, very lovely and effective. A vision taken from the perspective of the children with some special effect that works and makes the things funny. We re-enter in the section for the youth with "Die Blinganger" (The Blindganger), still an integration and diversity history, where often some of the “normals” are much blind of who is it really. Last brief lunch pause and we are ready in order to see "Planta 4a" (Fourth Floor), Spanish job with great humanity, put on the inside of one hospital ward with some little cancer sicks. One of the best sequences, onewheelchair race, half between “Ben Hur” and the Formula One, between two sick ones. An approach not in the standards of "politically correct" but that helped the history to work in a good way, avoiding to fall in the traps of the rhetorical or the easy commotion. With this movie our job is closed, at least in the part relative to the visions. It begins in fact the difficult part (even if then therefore it has not been, and of this I feel to thank the jury’s colleagues: Svea Pillau and Jitcka Kralicova) that is the choice of the three winners. Talking about the prizes, at the arrival to Zlin we discover that the prize that we must assign, for the F.I.C.C., the "Don Quijote" seems to being (and to difference of the other years), a simple diploma. Until this OK, in the end, the important is that the film is recognized, and deserves it. The difficulty is that the prizes are just physically not here. First moments of panic, then the decision to contact Italy in order to try to resolve the situation. A first contact is with my federation of belongings, the U.I.C.C., but, by the diligent person of madam Pia Soncini, them communicates me of being able to give me the data of the responsibles of the F.I.C.C. I do not get lost of mind and I send the email to the vice president. The demand has its effects, at least I believe, in as much as Bernt Lindner, elderly and gentleman German journalist, here just in order to follow the festival and affiliated to the F.I.C.C., deliveries to Kamila the diplomas on which we will write the names of ours three preferred films. The argument has beginning, in a climate of calm cordiality. One of the special recognition of our jury is for the Russian "Progulka", the other one is for "Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi", while the winner turns out to be "Planta 4a". The verdict to the end turns out to be satisfactory, even if, as often it happens, we feel regret for many other films that could have deserved something. This is Festival’s hard law. The evening is concluded with the nth splendid party, in Vizovice. In an atmosphere initially ruined from the rain, but, by the way, ready to turn in one evocative, but a somewhat icy one, mist, we come still pleasantly invested from the flavours, the aromas and above all from the popular songs of the Moravia. Still a most pleasant evening, deep and philosophical dissertations with the hosts on the next Europeans championships of soccer (well, not only by Cinema lives the juror...) and I re-enter to Zlin with, for one evening, no worry on the awakening ideas early riser....

June the 4th 2004 If I thought to have exausted the official engagements, I must change idea. At 10,00 a.m., therefore, all an acceptable timetable, the telephone rings. On the first I was beginning to think to one my tragic distraction, and therefore of having still something to see, but the verdict of Kamila, expeditious and immediate, reconnects me to the truth. No film but I must represent the jury in the press conference, because the designated president, mrs. Kralikova, is sick, therefore cannot report the choices of the jury to the organization and to the press. I accept the verdict with relative tranquillity and catch up, naturally nearly to the last one moment, Kamila in the press room. I went equipped of caps and, diligently, I expose the reasons of our choices. Acquitted also this duty, I augur myself positively, I was stopped from mrs. Elisabetta Brunella of Media Salles. She asks me to hold a short one, and totally unexpected stage, for a small stall of international, but above all Italians, operators, over the seen films, the decisions of the jury and how much other can come in their mind. Done, with appeals, also this task I am ready for the final gala, always to the "Velke Cino", in the evening. There will be a TV show, made from one of the partner of the Festival, it will be live and in prime time. The show will be made by the private network Prima. All it is carried out according to script, with perfect times. The first thing that I notice is that, in an hour and twenty of show for the television, there are only two advertising breaks. The second one is the presence of the cult actor, for the home audience, Pierre Brice, famous for the western saga of Winnetou, practically disowned for us in Italy. Standing ovation for him and astonished looks in my direction when, with innocent expression, I have asked for who he was. Giving my excuses to Mr. Brice (who had worked a lot also in Italy, f.i. in “I Cosacchi” by Giorgio Rivalta, in “Il Rossetto” by Damiano Damiani, in the cult movie “Il Mulino delle Donne di Pietra” by Giorgio Ferroni, in “Il Giorno più Corto” di Sergio Corbucci, in a superstar cast, noticed that, with Brice, I found also Gassman, Belmondo, Cervi, Totò, i fratelli De Filippo, Tognazzi, Tomas Milian, Aldo Fabrizi, Amedeo Nazzari, Franchi ed Ingrassia, Macario, Vianello, Terence Hill, etc. etc, and a lot of movies more), for had not recognized him, I go straight to the end of the ceremony, remembering that the other winners were “Stormy Night” in the animation section, again “Planta 4a” as best youth film, “Strong As A Lion” as best child movie, “Thirteen”, as the best feature for the youth and “The Farmkeeper” as best child feature, “The Blindganger” as the best feature for the international expert’s Jury, “Daniel and the superdog”, as the audience award. There are a lot of awards, who wants can click on the following link http://www.zlinfest.cz/index.php?akce=show&id=191&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zlinfest.cz%2F%3FnewLang%3Den . Last party, in the wonderful castle of Napajedla, with an unavoidable shadow of melancholy, due to the next leaving, but with the true awareness to had saw a Festival that started, for my tastes, under a very different light. The quality of the works was very flickering, that’s for true, from the best to the worst, but was offered a great chance to see a lot of products that will be hard to see in Italy. On the human side a great experience of contact and knowledge, started soft, but growing time by time, with a lot of episodes and a lot of people that I knew hospitable and warm. The last words are for a perfect organization that had used well, for what I could seen from the outside, all the means available. It deserves a great attention, because was an ensemble very well done, and also deserves a come back…who knows!