Fest Traveler: Giffoni Film Festival 2012

The Giffoni Film Festival sees the euro crisis embroiling Europe as a plus, and not a minus. Indeed, the July 14-24 event expects record crowds.

Why?

Most of the events at the fest are free.

Europe’s largest children’s film festival, which this year hosts 3,300 jurors, ages 3-23, from more than 40 countries in the small southern Italian town of Giffoni Valle Piana near the Amalfi coast, is “a social safety net,” says its topper and founder Claudio Gubitosi.

Gubitosi sees this year’s edition as an event which, besides encouraging the film buffs of the future, “can help families find more cohesion” offering them its widest range of events ever, spanning from a rich mix of movies and master classes to concerts, theater and puppet shows, playing in an unprecedented 18 venues. All free of charge, except for the rock-bottom-priced concerts, performed by marquee artists such as Patti Smith, who has also been recruited for a Giffoni master class.

Besides the 3,300 residents of this global cinematic summer camp, Gubitosi expects between 160,000 and 180,000 festgoers this year, some 40,000 more than in the past simply because “people don’t have money to go out anymore, and Giffoni is free,” he says.

Which is not to say Giffoni has lowered the bar on the quality of its wide range of offerings comprising, as far as movies go, local bows of studio blockbusters like “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” and, artier, often edgy, international fare including Moroccan helmer Nabil Ayouch’s “Horses of God,” in which four friends from the slums are recruited by Islamic fundamentalists and turned into suicide bombers.

The fest has not been spared by the Italian government’s cuts to the arts. But Gubitosi has managed compensate for that loss, at least in part, by tapping into European funding and by devising marketing strategies that aim to capitalize on the global appeal of the Giffoni brand even more than before.

Giffoni, which is becoming a franchise, set up several international satellite events in the past, including one in Hollywood and another in Sydney. This year Gubitosi is pacting with Sao Paulo to bring a Giffoni fest to the Brazilian city.

The next step is “not just to export our format, but also to sell our organizational skills,” he says. The idea is “to travel around the world, teach young people our know-how and create partnerships and joint-ventures with international governments and organizations.”

HIGHLIGHTS

STARS GET CLOSE
Nicolas Cage, Jessica Alba, Dianna Agron and Jean Reno are among the international stars expected to interact with the kids, rather than tubthump movies, at Giffoni, where the Italo launch of Fox’s “Ice Age: Continental Drift” will be the opener.

INDIE OFFERINGS
On the indie front, standout titles include two emotionally strong South African movies: Avie Luthra’s “Lucky,” about an orphan with AIDS and an Indian woman who comes to his rescue, and Sara Blecher’s “Otelo Burning,” about three township boys who discover the joy of surfing. Others include Turkish arranged-marriage drama “Night of Silence,” by helmer Reis Celik, in which a 14-year-old girl is to become the bride of an over-60 criminal; U.S. first-time helmer Christopher Neil’s coming-of-ager “Goats,” which preemed at Sundance; and Dutch hit “Cool Kids Don’t Cry,” by helmer Dennis Bots, about a soccer-crazy 12-year-old girl diagnosed with leukemia.

NORTHERN LIGHTS
As always, Northern European countries, the planet’s biggest producers of kiddie and adolescent fare, loom large in the lineup, with the Netherlands particularly well-represented this year. Besides “Cool,” another Dutch entry is the world preem of coming-of-ager “Milo,” the debut feature by the brothers Berend and Roel Boorsma.

RETROS ON TAP
Special events include a Tim Burton marathon, and an homage to Francois Truffaut, 30 years after the Gallic auteur attended and praised the Giffoni as the “most necessary” fest.

MUSIC NOTES
Concerts include performances by Patti Smith; alt rockers Dinosaur Jr. and Blonde Redhead; and Italo pop stars Pino Daniele and Capareza.

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