ROME — With three Italian titles selected in the 68th Cannes film festival competition — and four in the official selection — Italy’s film industry is on cloud nine over its most robust representation on the Croisette in at least two decades.
“Four Italian films in Cannes bear the fruit of the talents of our auteurs and prove the maturity of an industry once again at the center of international attention, thanks to the strong export of movies and TV series,” enthused Italo motion picture association ANICA, in a statement issued right after Cannes announced its lineup.
It comprises Matteo Garrone’s ambitious English-language horror/fantasy “The Tale of Tales,” toplining Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly; Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” (“La Giovinezza”), also in English, about a retired orchestra conductor, played by Michael Caine, in an alpine resort; and Nanni Moretti’s “Mia Madre,” which marks Moretti’s third collaboration with Italo actress Margherita Buy – who in the film plays Moretti’s alter ego, a film director contending with an ailing mother and other crises.
The fourth Italo entry in the fest’s official selection is Texas-based Italo helmer Roberto Minervini’s docu “The Other Side” (Aka “Louisiana”), about the hidden underbelly of America, screening in Un Certain Regard.
To celebrate the outstanding occasion, the three Italo directors in competition, pictured here (Sorrentino, Moretti, Garrone – from left to right) issued a joint statement.
“We are happy and proud to represent Italy in competition at the next Cannes Film Festival. We are aware that this is a great opportunity for us and for all Italian cinema. Our films, each in its own way, try to present our personal vision on reality and also on filmmaking. We hope that our presence in Cannes can provide a stimulus for many other Italian directors who are treading into less obvious and conventional paths.”
Interestingly, during the Paris presser a French journo noted that Cannes had chosen two Italian films shot in English, lamenting that they did so simply to make their pics more marketable.
“Sorrentino and Garrone don’t do that to please the Anglo-Saxon market,” replied Cannes fest director Thierry Fremaux.
“They have their stories to tell,” countered the Cannes topper.
It’s undeniable that the big novelty in Italian cinema are directors like Garrone and Sorrentino making English-language films, but with a distinctive European sensitivity, at a time when the batting average for less imaginative fare in Italian is dropping at the local box office.