The dynamics between an Italian disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and his filmmaker son form the heart of Sebastiano D'Ayala Valva's engrossing personal docu.

The dynamics between an Italian disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and his filmmaker son form the heart of Sebastiano D’Ayala Valva’s engrossing personal docu, “The House of the Father.” Dad Franco was a Wright acolyte in Taliesin, where he absorbed the master’s structural theories as well as his disastrous interpersonal skills. Son Sebastiano explores the man’s work while unselfconsciously winning auds over to the difficulties of calling such a narcissist “Papa.” Fests needn’t push the “My Architect” parallels to attract intrigued viewers happy to play at family therapist during the short running time.

Docu begins as a straightforward look at Franco’s training under Wright (including fascinating vintage color footage and sound recordings) and his worshipful approach to his teacher’s theories. Gradually Franco’s personal history is introduced, encompassing three wives and multiple children but rarely an understanding of what it means to be a father. Sebastiano takes Franco to Mexico to look at his earliest projects, and then gradually steers the docu toward his own relationship with Franco in passive-aggressive scenes that must be painful to share with an audience. Digital lensing quality is uneven but doesn’t detract from the film.

The House of the Father

Italy

Production

A Settimarte, Fantastificio Films production. Produced by Michele Milossi, Federico Saraceni, Sebastiano D'Ayala Valva. Directed by Sebastiano D'Ayala Valva. Screenplay, D'Ayala Valva, Michael Smadja, Stefania Bonatelli.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), D'Ayala Valva; editor, Ilaria Fraioli; music, Riccardo Amorese, Inti D'Ayala Valva. Reviewed at Turin Film Festival (competing), Nov. 21, 2009. Original title: La casa del padre. Italian, English, Spanish dialogue. Running time: 69 MIN.

With

Narrator: Sebastiano D'Ayala Valva.
Narrator: Sebastiano D'Ayala Valva.
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