On the Croisette, if you come to Cannes for the first time during the Festival, you will be amazed to hear the language of Dante spoken so much. Between the Palais des Festivals and the big hotels, passing by the seafront, you sometimes think, closing your eyes, in Rome or Turin, another transalpine capital of cinema. Journalists ? Surely for many of them, recognizable by their press accreditation badge around their neck. Much more numerous, the professionals of the cinema. Why so many Italians in Cannes? Who are they and what are they doing at the Festival?
Direction the Palais des Festivals, in its press room, its corridors, its (indispensable) bar with free espressos, where the proportion of Italian speakers is still climbing. Not to mention the large halls adjoining the huge Grand Théâtre Lumière and Debussy halls where the teams gather at the exit of the official screenings. There, at the premiere of Bellocchio’s film, Esterno Notte (in the Cannes Première section) at the start of the festival, or at that of Mario Martone, Nostalgia (in competition) halfway through, we come across everything that matters in the Italian cinema-sphere: actors and filmmakers who have come to support their champions – the stars Toni Servillo or Pierfrancesco Favino -, producers and future distributors involved, institutions, in person for example of the charismatic former mayor of Rome Francesco Rutelli, today at the head of Anica (the patronage of the cinema industry).
The films presented at Cannes are the showcase. Even if there is only one Italian film in competition this year (few, compared to the very successful previous years) to which are added two co-productions, an Italian-Belgian (The mountain otto by Vandermeersch and Van Groeningen) and a Franco-Italian, signed by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (The Almond Trees), the parallel selections offer other films, including that of Bellocchio (an important figure, awarded the Palme d’or d’honneur last year) and take off of the very promising Pietro Marcello. Actress Jasmine Trinca presents her first film as a director at Cannes Première (Marcel!), and is part of the jury of Vincent Lindon. Other cinema figures are there without a film, such as Valeria Golino, who chairs the Un Certain Regard jury or the cult filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino (The Big Bellezza) invited by the festival for a debate on the future of cinema.
Behind the films, behind the stars, a great deal of activity in the Italian cinema industry and market is taking place here, on the Croisette. You have to go to the Hotel Majestic to realize this, in the vast space of the Italian Pavilion, animated by the main structures of this industry: Cinecittà (which has become a public company supporting national cinema), Anica , the Ministry of Culture and the Film Commission, a regional public production support body. The Italian pavilion is both a place for meetings and international business, terraces where filmmakers promote their films, and above all a free space where, spontaneously, producers, institutions, artists, festival managers meet and exchange.
“Here are born ideas, and often trigger projects in terms of creation or logistics.“, explains Marlon Pellegrini, of Cinecittà. Basically, a business between two Italians can be born or concluded here in Cannes. “This festival is a hub. The Venice Film Festival is fundamental for the showcase of cinema, but Cannes has the Film Market, that changes everything!“, says Paolo Manera, director of the Film Commission of the very important region of Piedmont (Turin), he constantly goes back and forth between the Film Market and the Italian Pavilion, at the lookout for meetings: “I’m looking for those who have a film or better, those who are writing it and want to shoot it. At the Market everything is very structured. Here at the Pavilion, we have the informal aspect, the improvisation which is essential“, he enlightens us.
The love story between Cannes and Italian cinema has a long tradition. “Of The good life from Fellini (Golden Palm) to Adventure from Antonioni, via Rome Open City by Rossellini, Cannes has accelerated the careers of masterpieces of Italian cinema“, likes to recall Marlon Pellegrini of Cinecittà. “But it’s not just history: Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) and Paolo Sorrentino exploded in Cannes and used it as a springboard for the United States. Alice Rohrwacher, she was noticed, in Cannes, by Jane Campion…”.
Finally, even the Franco-Italian co-productions so famous at the time of Delon, Noiret and Trintignant, have resumed in recent years. Initially limited to the underground, they now carry the new cinema of which Pietro Marcello or a Michelangelo Frammartino are representatives. On the Croisette we are not about to stop hearing Italian spoken.
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Cannes Film Festival 2022: welcome to Little Italy in the heart of the Croisette