The Giffoni Experience prides itself in transforming passive young spectators into active protagonists — a mission supported by passionate discussion that unfolds year-round via the fest’s vast Internet community. To spark conversation, the fest announces an annual theme to drive conversations, meetings and screenings. (Past topics include “Desire,” “Energy,” “Emotion,” “Discovery,” “Borders,” “Choices,” “Dreams” and, last year, “Taboo.”)
For its 40th-anniversary edition, Europe’s largest kid-focused film fest decided to focus on “Love.”
“You could say that we have never really thought about anything else,” says founder and topper Claudio Gubitosi, “if you look at the previous themes we picked.”
Giffoni, which is like a big family, has never shied away from potentially touchy themes like adolescent sex and homosexuality, as evidenced by the inclusion in this year’s selection of Jordan Scott’s “Cracks,” starring Eva Green as a sapphic schoolmistress.
But, of course, Gubitosi’s choice of “Love” as a theme transcends its physical aspect.
“We want to talk about this powerful energy that feeds our existence, about this human nourishment which has something divine — this feeling that has infinite forms,” says Gubitosi.
Those forms include the voyage taken by a young Colombian woman back to the homestead where her family was murdered by paramilitary rebels in Carlos Gaviria’s “Portraits in a Sea of Lies,” or a 12-year-old fighting prejudice against her AIDS-stricken mother in a South African village in Oliver Schmitz’s “Life, Above All.”
Although several entries offer poignant ideas on the subject, Gubitosi is quick to point out that there is no direct correlation between this year’s 160-plus film selection and the theme, which is proving a winner before the fest even gets started.
“It’s the most complex theme we’ve ever had, and it seems to be a popular one,” he says. “Our website has been bombarded ever since we announced it.”