ROME — Expanding its focus a little more each year, the 14th Alpe Adria Cinema-Trieste Film Festival, held Jan. 16-23, reached beyond its original specialization in Central European fare to embrace pics from Turkey, Italy and Central Asia.
The small but well-managed meet had a consistently strong turnout from local Triestines, who packed its two downtown venues.
The exuberant Czech film “Year of the Devil,” by Petr Zelenka, which took home the Grand Prix kudos at Karlovy Vary in the summer, won the feature competition.
In the short-film category, the Byelorussian “We Are Living on the Edge,” about life in a farming village populated solely by the aged, won top honors for director Viktor Asliuk.
But undisputed star of the event was Polish director Andrzej Zulawski. In what may be the first complete retrospective of his work, Alpe Adria shone a spotlight on the former enfant terrible of ’70s Polish cinema. Mercilessly censored by the communist government of the time as excessive and extreme, Zulawski later became known for his unbridled French films with glamorous actresses Valerie Kaprisky, Isabelle Adjani and Sophie Marceau.
“My films are really different — and not easy to take,” admitted the director and writer. A new Italian stage adaptation of his novel “Bluebeard” closed the festival.
Like a number of established Italian fests, Alpe Adria is suffering from budget cutbacks by the country’s new governing parties.
“We are in the terrible situation of holding a festival without knowing how much we have to spend,” lamented fest founder and director Annamaria Percavassi, who at fest time could count on firm support only from the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.