Italian Film Festival

Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse, Fri 16—Fri 30 Apr.

’Rosi’s is the cinema of good intentions: a social democrat rather than a radical.’ This may have been an insult in the daring political cinema of the 605 and 705, from whence the 76-year-old Francesco Rosi came, but looking back from the anodyne late 905, Rosi’s oeuvre seems honest and tough-minded. There’s a serious body of work there, worthy of the retrospective the 1999 Italian Film Festival is offering.

Rosi first came to international notice in 1961, shaping the story of Salvatore Giuliano around an enquiry into the gangster’s life, not simply through looking at the crimes committed, but also at the surrounding Sicilian landscape and the peasants' faces. The degree to which Rosi's plots are excavated from locale and visage shouldn’t be underestimated. In perhaps his best known work, Christ Stopped At Eboli, a writer staying in the southern Italian town of the title seems at odds with the impassive faces all around, with the austere location that envelops him.

Is this because Rosi’s films move around people rather than tell a story about them? In his two contemporary political films of the 705 The Mattei Affair and Illustrious Corpses the films are essentially cinematic post-mortems. They may be modern day, but they’re also past tense, evidenced by the flashback structure in

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Francesco Rosi: getting below the surface

Mattei and the enquiry into the illustrious dead in Corpses. It’s as if Rosi's work is grounded in the investigation of hard facts and unyielding faces, in looking behind murdered VIPs and squarely at the mugs of such actors as Gian Maria Volonté and Lino Ventura.

There have been lighter works Cinderella, Italian Style, made in 1967 with Sophia Loren and Omar Sharif, and a filmed version of Bizet's Carmen in 1983, for example. An adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle Of A Death Foretold, meanwhile, combined questioning with sumptuousness. None of these three films is part of the retrospective: the emphasis is on the visually pallid and emotionally severe. Aptly so, for Rosi does not bring to mind images of optimistic splendour; he suggests instead an intellectual pessimism, a dogged but hardly hopeful sense of curiosity.

Also showing will be his latest film, The Truce. Adapted from Primo Levi’s book about Auschwitz survivors coping with post-war life, the film can be seen not only from the perspective of Rosi’s main work, but also within the context of younger Italian filmmakers. Are there any following in the master’s weary trudge through grim realities? Perhaps the rest of the Italian Film Festival will answer that question. (Tony McKibbin)

See l't"‘."l("."'/.S, listings and index Rosi discusses The Truce r'r Gi'asgo'.'.« on Fri 23 and Edinburgh on Sat 24 Apr Sergio Sfr'iX/r's Lino-to exhibition is at the /talran Cultural lr‘isi'ItUié-Z’, fund‘s-tr: Street, Edinburgh from Fri 76—60 30 Apr

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20THELIST ‘- . -


Little Teachers (15) 110 mins ****

A group of students head to the hills to pm the anti-fasost resistance in the last days of World War II. At first, it’s all a big adventure: the naive prinCiples which bind them together shines on their bOyish faces. However, the reality of the conflict teaches tltem lessons they couldn't learn in college, and gradually the film takes on a less Jaunty tone. Watching them as they vote on whether or not to execute a German prisoner, we can see the toll that close contact With war takes on youthful idealism. Daniele Luchetti's film has a real sense of comradeship. tAMii

Freshwater Man (PG) 95 mins * w

Writer-director—star Antonio Albanese has been compared to Jacques Tan and Jim Carrey; Sure enough, the physical nature of his clowning placed wrthrn realistic comedy surroundings makes for a distinctive style that IlltllVldLlcll Viewers Will either love or hate Striding around like a Wind-up t0y, Albanese plays a man who must wrn back the love of his wrfe and daughter after a bump on the head caused him to no AWOL for five years More than slightly irritating lAM)

Kisses And Hugs (15) 104 mins at w 2&-

Only released a couple of months ago in Italy, Paolo Virrr's comedy plays out over the Christmas holidays, as an extended iamin at entie :-r'eneur‘s (they're trying to get an ostrich farm off the ground; bring hope hack into the life of a suicidal restaurateur they believe to be an influential government offioal. This case of :iiis‘taken identity is but One defining element in a traditional farce, x'xhrg'n aISo include illicit affairs and e*':i;ir,;ei'atetl cleavages The laughs don't ire in the subtitles, despite the torrent of :liaieciue' it’s more the contagious family madness and rndrvrdual eccentricitres that warm the heart. tAiNll

See Film listings and index for full details on these films ant." other Italian Film Festival screenings

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