Giffoni celebrates 40th anni with extra ambition

Forty years after Giffoni Film Fest topper Claudio Gubitosi launched his kid-focused sprocket opera, the mandate remains the same, while the ambition has grown enormously.

“We are always looking for movies that will entertain kids but also help them grow and make them think,” says Gubitosi. “This year, I’m pleased that we’ve outdone ourselves.”

In addition to hosting a range of pubic figures, from Samuel L. Jackson to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, the anniversary event aims to showcase the best movies being made around the planet, pedagogically picked to fit into six sections targeted at young auds, ranging from children aged 3-5 to young adults 18-23. The moppet auds then vote on their favorites, deciding the fest’s top prizes.

Junior jurors see films in the “Elements” categories, including Indonesian helmer Ifa Isfansyah’s “Garuda in My Heart,” about a 12-year-old torn between dreams of becoming a professional soccer player and pressure to get a good education, and “Karla and Jonas,” a Danish romancer revolving around the search for an orphaned teen’s biological mom, by Charlotte Sachs Bostrup (“Lost Generation”).

Teen films fall under the “Generator” heading. Gallic helmer Roselyn Bosch’s big-budget Gallic drama “The Round Up,” which depicts the notorious mass arrest by France’s Vichy government of more than 13,000 Jews prior to sending many of them to Auschwitz — a horror seen through children’s eyes — is among the highlights of this section and a reminder of Gubitosi’s mantra that “there is really no such thing as movies just for children.”

While taking on edgy material, Gubitosi always remains mindful that during the fest he is “the guardian of our guests,” explaining, “Each movie has to respect the children’s age, but also be stimulating.”

Celebrations for the fest’s 40th will be marked by President Napolitano laying the symbolic first brick of the long-gestating Giffoni Multimedia Valley, a $40 million complex comprising a children’s film museum and library, but also facilities to produce youth-oriented film and TV projects.

The new development is the reason Oscar-wining Italian helmer Giuseppe Tornatore and many other top local directors will be holding master classes for a select group of 100 Italian youths aged 19-23.

“We are taking Giffoni to the next level, and a key aspect of our evolution is that we want to become a breeding ground for both talent and product,” Gubitosi says.

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