Monday, September 29, 2014

UNLOCK YOUR LOVE & George Clooney Wedding in Venice


Amal Alamuddin & George Clooney wed in Venice

(Venice, Italy) Venice was truly the City of Love this weekend as George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin married at the Aman Canal Grande. Photos of the wedding were tightly controlled, so the only opportunities for the paparazzi and the public to snap a shot were as the couple traveled by water-taxi, or entered and exited venues. People lined the Grand Canal for hours hoping for a glimpse of the couple, cheering and waving whenever they appeared. The sunlight sparkled on the water, liquid diamonds that set the backdrop for a long weekend of glamour and romance.


Palazzo Papadopoli - Clooney wedding night
I think it is terrific that the power couple married in Venice; it is the kind of energy that spotlights Venice at her best. George Clooney comes regularly to the Venice Film Festival, so I've had the good fortune to see him at press conferences, and think he is an honorable, intelligent man with a great sense of humor and charm. Amal Alamuddin was stunning in one magnificent fashion work-of-art after another, a unique combination of beauty and brains. I've also written about the Aman Canal Grande for CNN Travel, and think it was the perfect spot for the wedding -- Palazzo Papadopoli is more like an impressive home rather than a hotel; in fact, the family who owns the palace still lives on the top floor.

UNLOCK YOUR LOVE crew at the foot of the Accademia Bridge
As the Clooneys celebrated their new life together, Venice also was busy starting anew. In support of NATIONAL CLEANING DAY 2014, a day that civic-minded groups throughout Italy come together to tidy up the country, citizens in Venice spent Sunday painting over graffiti, cleaning the trash from the waters of the canals and chopping off the unattractive "love" padlocks that couples have clamped onto bridges throughout the city.

Venetian writer Alberto Toso Fei cutting off a "love" lock
I was part of the UNLOCK YOUR LOVE group, coordinated by Alberto Alberti, and spearheaded by the Venetian writer, Alberto Toso Fei, who also seems very adept with a pair of bolt-cutters.

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
We began at the Accademia Bridge, which has been covered with unsightly padlocks for years (a personable photographer who was waiting for an exclusive shot of the Clooney wedding party was perched at the top with a very long lens). As a portion of the UNLOCK YOUR LOVE group sliced off the padlocks with gusto, and another part explained what we were doing and handed out flyers, I asked couples from all over the world to express their love with photos instead of locks. People were happy to oblige as I snapped away with my very old cell phone.

#UnlockYourLove in Venice

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
The larger group that coordinated Venice's CLEANING DAY activities is called the Associazione Masegni & Nizioleti Onlus, which is headed by the divine Cecilia Tonon. "Masegni" are the paving stones you walk on when you come to Venice, and "nizioleti" are the black and white rectangular street signs you see all over the city that indicate the names of the squares and streets.

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
#UnlockYourLove in Venice
This is what the Associazione Magesni & Nizioleti Onlus group does:

"We are a group of citizens who care for Venice, its cleanliness, its livability."

#UnlockYourLove in Venice

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
"We keep an eye on our streets and intervene where there is graffiti, padlocks (lovelocks), evidence of lack of respect for Venice and for those who live in this city and love her."

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
#UnlockYourLove in Venice
"We gather together those of us who love Venice and want to improve her."

#UnlockYourLove in Venice

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
"We have removed padlocks from the bridges, and we have pushed the City Council to take action against this anti-ecological fad."

#UnlockYourLove in Venice

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
"We remove graffiti tags and degrading treatments from the walls and the Istrian stone."

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
#UnlockYourLove in Venice
"We promote the restoration of chipped and damaged nizioleti." 

#UnlockYourLove in Venice
To find out more information about the group, go to their website, or find them on Facebook HERE or HERE.

And when you come to Venice, be sure to express your love with a photo, instead of a padlock. Upload the photo to the internet, and it will last forever. But the padlock will be cut off. As one visitor said, "It's bad karma."

Severed "love" locks in the trash
I rarely have a reason to interact with the visitors who come to Venice, so it was a lot of fun to talk to people from all around the world. Most people were pleasant, and seemed to genuinely be having a good time. With the sun dazzling the waters, and the Clooney wedding playing in the background, it was another magical moment in Venice, the City of Amore.

George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin after civil ceremony
Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Friday, September 26, 2014

Creative Earthquake at Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice - AZIMUT/H and HEINZ MACK

Luca Massimo Barbera, Philip Rylands & Heinz Mack
on rooftop terrace at Peggy Guggenheim Collection
(Venice, Italy) Six rooms at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection contain chunks of a creative earthquake that happened in Milan between September 1959 and July 1960. Back then, two young artists, Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni, joined forces to create the Azimut Gallery, together with an art review called Azimuth. The result rocked the art world on its axis; the aftershocks are still felt today. In AZIMUTH/H - CONTINUITY AND NEWNESS, Curator Luca Massimo Barbera inserts that creative earthquake into the artistic graph, providing a road map for young artists to navigate their way through the galaxy - what came before, and how the world of art arrived at the point where it is today. 

I am a Saint by Lucio Fontana (1958)
Even though Azimut/h only existed for eleven months, from September 1959 to July 1960, as the world pivoted into the new decade, it connected post-war neo-avantgarde thinkers not only in Italy, but on an international scale. It was a new concept of art itself. The first room at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection contains works by Italians Lucio Fontana and Albert Burri, French Yves Klein, Swiss-French Jean Tinguely, and Americans Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Azimuth featured Rauschenberg and Johns before most of the world knew they existed.

Artist's Shit by Piero Manzoni (1961)
Adding to the mystic of Azimut/h was the death of Piero Manzoni (1933-1963), who died young of a heart attack at the age of 29. He created 90 cans of "Artist's Shit" or "Merde d'artista," which have never been opened because it would devalue the work -- an irony since they were created as a parody of consumerism -- the cans were priced by weight based on the value of gold. The most recent can sold in 2008 for £97,250, about $150,000 or €124,000. (Do you think Manzoni is chuckling in the Afterword?)

White Surface by Enrico Castellani (1959)
Enrico Castellani (1930-) was the more conservative and intellectual of the two artists. He said, “In the cultural climate of that time, and despite the fierce polemics existing between groups of diverse cultural extraction, it wasn’t at all uncommon to exchange the documents of our reciprocal experiences. This is how the first issue of the review came about, in the spring of ’59, and it is an anthology of what was valid and what could be criticized at the time, albeit with glaring omissions that were to some extent remedied by the activity of the gallery [...]. In our work we took a dialectical position with a ‘partial’ synthesis of the historical avantgarde. The second issue of Azimuth and the resulting gallery exhibitions are a product of this stance. They both come from a discrimination and from a co-option. The discrimination is based on everything that we feel is compromised about the historical avantgarde; in light of this differentiation one co-opts the results of the experiences held to be valid.”

The Joy of Calvin by Heinz Mack (1963)
Castellani went on to become part of the ZERO movement, founded by the Germans Heinz Mack and Otto Piene in 1957, and joined by Gunther Eucker in 1961, whose aspiration was to transform and redefine art after World War II. It has since morphed into an international network of like-minded artists from Europe, Japan and the Americas, and will have its "first large scale historical survey in the United States" opening on October 10, 2014 at the Guggenheim in New York City entitled: ZERO - COUNTDOWN TO TOMORROW, 1950s-60s.

Luca Massimo Barbera and Heinz Mack (with interpreter)
Heinz Mack's first Italian solo exhibition was at the Galleria Azimut in March, 1960. He said: “[Manzoni] brought a dozen girls, one more beautiful than the other, and they all wore sunglasses, something that was certainly crazy at the time, since they were not yet in fashion. Some sunglasses seemed as if they were made by hand. Then the girls said in front of the television audience: yes, so much light is emanating from Mack’s work that wearing sunglasses is necessary. Today one would call this a trendy joke.”

Heinz Mack spoke at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on September 19th, and it was riveting. He spoke in German, and it was interpreted in Italian, so let's hope I got most of it right:) He said that what happened back then was a real phenomenon. There was no way to communicate like there is today, and yet all these artists in different parts of the world were working on the same wavelength. After the war there was a vacuum that needed to be filled and artists had an obligation to fill it. After such devastation, without spirituality, with enormous suffering, the artists were optimistic.

He said it was not a "team work" like today, but that they worked alone, yet with friends. To experience the reality that you are absolutely alone in this world, and then to meet like-minded artists gave them a sense of security. It confirmed the Light.

Light is extremely important to Heinz Mack. Light is like the heart; miraculous; happiness. It is a metaphysical phenomenon. It is immaterial, a miracle of this world. After World War II, the artists wanted to defend the concept of Light.

The Sky Over Nine Columns by Heinz Mack
Those words moved me deeply, as had Mack's The Sky Over Nine Columns that I saw on June 4, 2014 on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. I thought that if all these artists could still see the Light after growing up during the horrors of World War II, surely we can still see the Light today. I spoke to Heinz Mack after the discussion (and some of the best fried prawns I have ever eaten -- the delicate batter was like biting into a bird's nest) and told him that he had saved my life with the Light reflected on those golden columns, after all the darkness we had been experiencing here in Venice -- it was the same day that the mayor had been arrested for corruption. Heinz Mack asked if I were an artist, and I said I was a writer. I told him that his columns had moved me to tears, they were so filled with joy. He said, "It means a lot to me to hear that." 

Heinz Mack said, "If we don't see the light anymore, then we are dead." This time, we were speaking in English, so I know exactly what he said.

AZIMUT/H. Continuity and Newness
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
20 September 2014 – 19 January 2015
Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Sacred Feminine - Out of the Shadows and into the Light

The Gift of Athena Onka or 
The Goddess with the Head of a Sacred Donkey and her Sweet Daughter, the Spring of Thebes
by Fernanda Facciolli
(Venice, Italy) The artist Fernanda Facciolli is convinced that our planet Earth once worshiped mother goddesses and the elements of nature. The moon, mountains, trees and waters were deities to be revered. Before the Classical Greek priests of Zeus deliberately rewrote the story in about 480-323 BC and gave us the gods on Mount Olympus, there existed a different group of gods adulated by the Archaic Greeks, centuries before. The Sphinx was an actual mountain, Cadmus, grandson of Poseidon and the founder of Thebes, was really a subterranean torrent, and Semele, the mother of Dionysus, was the personification of the moon.

Before the Olympic gods, the Archaic Greeks worshiped a matriarchal religion, inspired by the beauty of nature they saw around them. Shepherds gazed upon mountains and saw animals and sleeping goddesses, giving them distinct names. Waterways were gods and goddesses that gave life -- rushing rivers were masculine; gentle springs were feminine; two rivers of equal size that flowed together in a common bed were man and wife.

Jocasta, Oedipus and the Dragon of Thespiae or 
The Main River of Thebes floods his Mother the Spring during a terrible tempest at Thespiae by Emmet
When Classical Antiquity came along, the patriarchal society repressed the Archaic goddesses and rewrote the myths, transforming Hera into the shrewish, jealous wife of the almighty god Zeus, who originally was simply Hera's husband. Demeter, Zeus's older sister, was reduced to obeying her brother's will. Zeus' wine-loving son, Dionysus, was originally the female Dionysa. Even though the name was changed from feminine to masculine, Dionysus kept the clothes that Dionysa wore, and her long, flowing hair. This radical transformation of the Archaic, matriarchal vision of the world into the Classical, patriarchal point of view emerged in Greek philosophy, art, and literature, providing the basis for European civilization that still exists to the present day.

Fueled by her determination to uncover clues to back-up her conviction, Fernanda and her husband, who uses the nom de plume "Emmet" as an artist, traveled to Greece in 2012 guided by Periegesis, the ancient text of Pausaias (110-180 AD), who, in turn, had made a similar journey influenced by the even more archaic writings of Hesiod (750-650 BC). Using scholarly research, original theories and their artistic abilities, the two artists present a new way of examining what lies under the foundation of our civilization.

CON PAUSANIA SULLE TRACCE DI ESIODO 
Quando gli Eroi erano ancora fiumi, i Giganti erano ancora montagne e le Ninfe erano ancora fonti
FOLLOWING PAUSANIAS IN SEARCH OF HESIOD
When Heroes were rivers, Giants were mountains, and Nymphs were watersprings

What the couple discovered in Thebes and Boeotia inspired a series of paintings, accompanied by a text published in three languages -- Italian, English and Greek -- by Marcianum Press, with a preface by Paolo Leoncini, the distinguished former Professor of Italian literature at Ca' Foscari University, Venice.

The Island of Ogygia or 
When the City of Thebes was an Island in a Lake and her Name was Ogygia, the Ancient by Emmet
For those of us who need to brush up on our Greek history, just who were Pausanias and Hesiod, and where is Thebes and Boeotia?

In ancient Greece, Thebes was the largest city in the region of Boeotia, as well as a major rival of Athens and Sparta. According to Fernanda and Emmet, Boeotia -- the region that gave us the mighty Hercules -- was the real birthplace of most of the original Greek myths and legends -- stories that were later rewritten. .




Even in ancient times, there were travel writers, and Pausanias was one whose words have come down to us today. Also a geographer, he was from Lydia, an area of Greece that is now part of Turkey, and lived around 900 years ago, about 110-180 AD. Before he traveled to Boeotia, Pausanias had been to visit the pyramids in Egypt, to Jerusalem and to Rome, among many other places. He not only wrote about the people and sights he saw, he was also fascinated by the myths and history that had created the cultures he was visiting. He wrote a ten-volume set entitled Hellados Periegesi (Description of Greece), and focused on ancient Greece and its holy relics, gods and sacred objects in their local context, rather than the contemporary Greece under Roman rule he was visiting. Even though he was a follower of Zeus, he was open-minded about cultures that followed different gods.

Hesiod was thought to be a Greek poet who lived around 750-650 BC in Boeotia, around 800 or 900 years earlier than Pausanias, or about 1800 years ago. Like any good travel writer, Pausanias used the writings of the local poet Hesiod, among others, as part of his research to uncover the ancient past of the area he was visiting when he went to Boeotia.

Menestratus, Cleostratus and the Dragon of Thespiae or 
Mother-Moon, Daughter-Spring and the Terrible Storm that Flooded the River at Thespiae
by Fernanda Facciolli
In 2012, Fernanda and Emmet traveled to Boeotia for 14 weeks, and used the research of Pausania -- who had used the words of Hesiod -- to step back nearly 2000 years into Archaic Greece. Fernanda, a Venetian, has had a long fascination with ancient myths. Now a pixieish 64-year-old, she literally ran into Emmet more than 50 years ago when she was a young teenager late for art class at the Liceo Artistico Accademia and he was an older student. All the other girls were already wearing stockings while she was still in knee socks. As she dashed off down the hall, Emmet thought: "That is the woman of my life."

After being married to others, and careers spent teaching art, ten years ago Fernanda and Emmet found each other again. Emmet developed a passionate interest in his wife's philological studies, and became her trusted supporter and adviser, bringing his own interpretations to her work. By examining name origins and journeying to the source, the couple attempted to reconstruct local religious beliefs in Ancient Boeotia before the advent of the Olympian gods based on their own scholarly research, intuition and imagination. 

The Sphinx of Thebes by Fernanda Facciolli
There was only one Sphinx in Greek mythology. She had the head of a woman, the body of a lioness, the wings of an eagle and the claws of a gryphon. The monstrous Sphinx guarded the entrance of the city of Thebes, asking all travelers the famous riddle to allow them access: "Which creature walks first on four, then two, then three legs?" The Sphinx killed everyone who got the answer wrong, until Oedipus came along. He answered the riddle correctly: "Man," then killed the Sphinx and carried her body into Thebes on the back of a donkey.

Fernanda and Emmet disagree with that interpretation. Tracing the origins of the Boeotian word for "Sphinx," they deducted that the mount where the Sphinx had her sanctuary was once covered by a lush oak forest, and the correct name of Mount Sphynghion, the Boeotian hill of Thebes, should be "The Mount of Oaks." Instead of Oedipus, the King of Thebes, killing the Sphinx, he was actually leading the triumphant goddess into Thebes on the back of the sacred donkey, which was held in high esteem for the milk it provided, similar to human mother's milk.   

The Lion and the Lioness or 
The Animal Face of the Sphinx and the Lion of St. Marco by Emmet
And as for the depiction of the Sphinx as a hybrid, lioness, woman and eagle? What Fernanda and Emmet saw with their own eyes inspired some of their most profound work. One day, as they were looking towards the mountain, they suddenly saw an enormous natural sculpture, a mountain molded in the form of a winged lioness about to rise out of the plain on powerful wings.  The next morning, as they were driving to the west of Thebes, they turned and looked back at the sacred mountain to say farewell. Instead of a winged lioness, the head of the Sphinx had transformed into the supine profile of a woman gazing up toward the heavens.

The winged lioness had revealed her true essence as a goddess of the earth.

 The Human Face of the Sphinx or 
The holy procession up the face of the Sacred Mountain by Emmet
 Fernanda Facciolli and Emmet will present FOLLOWING PAUSANIAS IN SEARCH OF HESIOD - When Heroes were rivers, Giants were mountains, and Nymphs were watersprings on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at the Biblioteca dello Studium Generale Marcianum at 5:00 PM by invitation only. The artists' work can also be seen at Galleria Il Dictynneion in Campiello del Sole, San Polo 911, every afternoon, or by appointment.

CON PAUSANIA SULLE TRACCE DI ESIODO 
Quando gli Eroi erano ancora fiumi, i Giganti erano ancora montagne e le Ninfe erano ancora fonti
by 
FERNANDA FACCIOLLI 

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2014
5:00 PM
Dorsoduro 1
Venezia
entrance: Seminario Patriarcale alla Salute
by invitation only

Galleria Il Dictynneion
Campiello del Sole
San Polo 911/a
Venezia
Vaporetto stop: San Silvestro or Rialto Mercato
Open afternoons or by appointment
+39 333-774-8603
Fernanda Facciolli

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
This is a sponsored post.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Venice Film Festival - Cat Bauer's Top 10 & George Clooney gets Married in Venice

Amal Alamudden & George Clooney
(Venice, Italy) Some reports complained about the lack of Hollywood shazam at this year's Venice Film Festival. No worries -- I think the star power that will soon descend on the Venetian lagoon will boil the waters when George Clooney marries Amal Alamudden here in Venice.

Roy Andersson with Golden Lion Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
The Swedes have already infilitrated our homes by way of IKEA. Now, in addition to Electrolux buying GE, the Swedes also soared this week by winning the Golden Lion for "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence," by Roy Andersson. I was initially intrigued by this film, but eventually walked out in frustration a bit more than halfway through. To me, it belongs in the theater, not on the big screen. It needs a live audience living in-the-moment to really pull off what it's trying to accomplish, which was brilliant, but film is the wrong medium. Obviously, my opinion is in the minority. 

In eleven or so days, I saw 22 feature films, and more than half of 4 others. That is an intense amount of film watching. The wonderful thing about the Venice Film Festival is that we get to see films from every corner of the planet, films that people have literally risked their lives to make. It really puts things into perspective, and it is a great honor to watch history in the making. 

Iranian filmmaker Rakhshan Bani-Etemad wins Best Screenplay for TALES
I lived in Hollywood for about 20 years. I love Hollywood movies because I like the structure, which is based on the Hero's Journey. At this year's festival, I saw a movie I had not planned to see simply because I went early to get a seat for the Paoslini and Burying the Ex press conferences, and stumbled into the press conference for Theeb. On the panel were a group of Bedouins, part of an Arabian tribe who lives in the desert. I was fascinated and went to see the film. It was truly a Hero's Journey told through the eyes of a young boy. When the film was over, Theeb got a 10-minute standing ovation. It also won the Best Director award in the Orizzonti section.

Theeb premier
Considering  what you in the States will actually have the opportunity to see, my Top 10 recommendations are as follows:

1. GOOD KILL starring Ethan Hawke, directed by Andrew Niccol

2. THE SOUND OF SILENCE, documentary by Josh Oppenheimer

3. 99 HOMES starring Michael Shannon & Andrew Garfield, directed by Ramin Bahrani

4. THE HUMBLING starring Al Pacino, directed by Barry Levinson

5. BIRDMAN starring Michael Keaton, directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu

6. SHE'S FUNNY THAT WAY starring Owen Wilson, directed by Peter Bogdanovich

7. CYMBELINE starring Ethan Hawke, directed by Michael Almereyda

8. NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME I - DIRECTOR'S CUT starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, directed by Lars von Trier

9. OLIVE KITTERIDGE starring Frances McDormand, directed by Lisa Cholodenko

10. BURYING THE EX, directed by Joe Dante

Jackie & Ryan directed by Ami Canaan Mann
Unfortunately, I completely missed "Jackie & Ryan" directed by Ami Canaan Mann, which is a shame because I really like her work. Things are so hectic during the festival that it never blipped on my radar until just now when I was sorting through my Twitter messages and saw that Guy Lodge at Variety gave it a lovely review:

Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes make genuinely sweet music together in this mellow, likably corny heartland romance.


Just when I was beginning to think that I was completely out of sync with the rest of the planet, I was relieved to finally find a critic with whom I agreed, who also thought "Good Kill" was a worthy flick, that Al Pacino was terrific in "The Humbling," and that "Cymbeline" was "brazen and provocative" -- Stephanie Zacharek, principal film critic for The Village Voice. I had heard her speak on the panel for Biennale College, and she knows her stuff.  Click HERE to read her "Good Kill" review, with links to a handful of others.

Here are the official awards: 


The Awards at the 71st Venice International Film Festival
VENEZIA 71
The Venezia 71 Jury, chaired by Alexandre Desplat and comprised of Joan Chen, Philip Gröning, Jessica Hausner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sandy Powell, Tim Roth, Elia Suleiman and Carlo Verdone having viewed all 20 films in competition, has decided as follows:
GOLDEN LION for Best Film to:
EN DUVA SATT PÅ EN GREN OCH FUNDERADE PÅ TILLVARON
(A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE)
by Roy Andersson (Sweden, Germany, Norway, France)
SILVER LION for Best Director to:
Andrej Končalovskij
for the film BELYE NOCHI POCHTALONA ALEKSEYA TRYAPITSYNA
(THE POSTMAN’S WHITE NIGHTS)
(Russia)
GRAND JURY PRIZE to:
THE LOOK OF SILENCE by Joshua Oppenheimer
(Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Norway, United Kingdom)
COPPA VOLPI
for Best Actor:
Adam Driver
in the film HUNGRY HEARTS by Saverio Costanzo (Italy)
COPPA VOLPI
for Best Actress:
Alba Rohrwacher
in the film HUNGRY HEARTS by Saverio Costanzo (Italy)
MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD
for Best Young Actor or Actress to:
Romain Paul
in the film LE DERNIER COUP DE MARTEAU by Alix Delaporte (France)
AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY to:
Rakhshan Banietemad and Farid Mostafavi
for the film GHESSEHA (TALES) by Rakhshan Banietemad (Iran)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE to:
SIVAS by Kaan Müjdeci (Turkey, Germany)
LION OF THE FUTURE – “LUIGI DE LAURENTIIS” VENICE AWARD FOR A DEBUT FILM
Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film Jury at the 71st Venice Film Festival, chaired by Alice Rohrwacher and comprised of Lisandro Alonso, Ron Mann, Vivian Qu and Razvan Radulescu,  has decided to award:
LION OF THE FUTURE – “LUIGI DE LAURENTIIS” VENICE AWARD FOR A DEBUT FILM to:
COURT by Chaitanya Tamhane (India)
ORIZZONTI
as well as a prize of 100,000 USD, donated by Filmauro di Aurelio e Luigi  De Laurentiis to be divided equally between director and producer
ORIZZONTI AWARDS
The Orizzonti Jury of the 71st Venice Film Festival, chaired by Ann Hui and composed of Moran Atias, Pernilla August, David Chase, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Roberto Minervini and Alin Taşçiyan after screening the 29 films in competition has decided to award:
the ORIZZONTI AWARD FOR BEST FILM to:
COURT by Chaitanya Tamhane (India)
the ORIZZONTI AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR to:
Naji Abu Nowar
for THEEB (Jordan, U.A.E., Qatar, United Kingdom)
the SPECIAL ORIZZONTI JURY PRIZE to:
BELLUSCONE. UNA STORIA SICILIANA
by Franco Maresco (Italy)
the SPECIAL ORIZZONTI AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR OR ACTRESS to:
Emir Hadžihafizbegović
in the film TAKVA SU PRAVILA (THESE ARE THE RULES)
by Ognjen Sviličić (Croatia, France, Serbia, Macedonia)
the ORIZZONTI AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FILM to:
MARYAM by Sidi Saleh (Indonesia)
the VENICE SHORT FILM NOMINATION FOR THE EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS 2014 to:
PAT – LEHEM (DAILY BREAD) by Idan Hubel (Israel)
VENEZIA CLASSICI AWARDS
The Venezia Classici Jury, chaired by Giuliano Montaldo composed of 28 students of Cinema History, chosen in particular from the teachers of 13 Italian Dams university programmes and from the Venetian Ca’ Foscari, has decided to award:
the VENEZIA CLASSICI AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY ON CINEMA to:
ANIMATA RESISTENZA by Francesco Montagner and Alberto Girotto (Italy)
the VENEZIA CLASSICI AWARD FOR BEST RESTORED FILM to:
UNA GIORNATA PARTICOLARE by Ettore Scola (1977, Italy, Canada)
GOLDEN LION FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT 2014 to:
Thelma Schoonmaker
Frederick Wiseman
JAEGER-LECOULTRE GLORY TO THE FILMMAKER AWARD 2014 to:
James Franco
PERSOL TRIBUTE VISIONARY TALENT AWARD 2014 to:
Frances McDormand
L’ORÉAL PARIS PER IL CINEMA AWARD to:
Valentina Corti

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat

Friday, September 5, 2014

GOOD KILL Gets my Vote - Best Film at 2014 Venice Film Festival

Ethan Hawke in GOOD KILL
(Venice, Italy) "Good Kill" by Andrew Niccol would win the Golden Lion, if it were up to me. I don't know what the odds are of that happening, since it is the last film in competition to screen, and the critics and the audience already seem to have made up their minds, the critics rooting for "The Look of Silence," the documentary by Josh Oppenheimer (which was also my favorite before I saw "Good Kill"), and the audience for "Birdman" by Alejandro G. Inarritu.

But the Jury, headed by the famed French composer Alexandre Desplat, is still out, and with actors as diverse as Tim Roth and Joan Chen on the panel, as well as Pulitzer Prize winning-author, Jhumpa Lahiri, we cannot predict how they will decide. The esteemed members of the 2014 Jury of the Venice Film Festival have won and/or been nominated for so many Academy Awards and other prestigious honors that I can't even begin to tally them all.

Alberto Barbera, Director (left) Alexandre Desplat, President of Jury - Variety party at Hotel Danieli - Photo: Mirco Toffolo
Members of the International Jury of Venezia 71:

Alexandre Desplat (President) - French film composer
    Joan Chen - Chinese and American actress, screenwriter and director
    Philip Gröning - German director and screenwriter
    Jessica Hausner -- Australian film director and screenwriter
    Jhumpa Lahiri - India American author born in London
    Sandy Powell - British costume designer
    Tim Roth - British actor, screenwriter and director
    Elia Suleiman - Palestinian film director and actor
    Carlo Verdone - Italian actor, screenwriter and director

Ethan Hawke and January Jones
"Good Kill" moved me deeply; I wept throughout much of the movie. It is a powerful depiction of a F-16 fighter pilot played by Ethan Hawke, who no longer risks his life in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect the United States, but has been reassigned to piloting drones in an air-conditioned cubicle in the desert near Las Vegas, 7,000 miles away from the action. He now fights the war on terror by remote control for 12 hours, and goes home to his wife (a terrific performance by January Jones) and kids the other half of the day.

Ethan Hawke gives one of the best performances of his career as Major Tommy Egan, who is having extreme difficulty adjusting from the dangerous life of a fighter pilot to a man whose co-workers now include gamers chosen for their ability to play video games in a shopping mall. The movie is set in 2010, and starts with the drones being controlled by the Department of Defense, with definite rules of engagement. Then Egan's unit is chosen to take orders directly from the CIA, and the rationale for the orders to kill start getting freaky. A disembodied voice (a chilling Peter Coyote) comes on the speaker phone: "Just call me Langley," and explains why it's now okay to kill innocent civilians. After the kill, the unit is then required to count the number of dead bodies.

After a stressful day on the job, Egan cranks up the music and zooms home in his souped-up Mustang, the artificial worlds of Las Vegas looming in the background. Even though Egan is always low-key, and never talks about his work at home, the effect the job is having on him starts spilling onto his family. At a barbeque in the yard of his track home in the suburbs that looks like all the rest (except the Egans have a swatch of grass in the back), a friend asks Molly, Egan's wife, if he ever gets angry. "Yes," she replies. "He gets even quieter."


From Variety:

Andrew Niccol takes on the topical issue of drone strikes in a tense war drama notable for its tact and intelligence.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Ethan Hawke stars as a drone pilot fighting the Taliban from the Nevada desert in writer-director Andrew Niccol's timely psychological drama 


Andrew Niccol, Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz (who gives a great performance as Egan's co-worker with real credentials) and producer Zev Foreman (who also produced the Academy Awarding-winning film, "The Hurt Locker") were all here in Venice for the press conference. No one has made a movie about drones before; we have no idea what this new form of warfare is all about, or the effect it has on the people who must perform it, and their families. Andrew Niccol said that he is not anti-drone or pro-drone, he wanted to make a movie about what it is. We keep hearing about "signature strikes." What are they, actually? Ethan Hawke said that his grandfather fought in World War II and never had to count the damage he did. What are we asking these people on the front line of the new modern warfare to do?

The panel was asked if the military had helped with the project, and the answer was no. "It's difficult to make a military movie with no support from the military." Zev Foreman said that he had given the script to the Department of Defense, who had cooperated when he made "The Hurt Locker," but that the "PR machine inside the DoD does not know how to handle the issue." There is a rivalry between the DoD and the OGA -- no one inside the drone program uses the initials "CIA," but, instead, "OGA" for "other governmental agencies" when they speak about who runs the drone program.


Andrew Niccol and Ethan Hawke both stressed that "Good Kill" was a cautionary tale, and that the emphasis in the film was about the people who have been placed in this incredible situation. Drones are bringing about the death of a job: pilots who actually know how to fly a fighter jet. It made me think: what will the world be like when there are no more top guns? People who know how to execute the super skills needed to fly a fighter jet? They took away Egan's work, which defined him as a human being. How many more human experiences will mankind lose? They are taking all the fun out of being a human being! Riding a stationary bicycle in a gym while watching a digital landscape go by is not the same as feeling the wind in your hair and smelling the grass on a winding country road.

I thought the film was practically perfect, from the performances, to the directing, to the cinematography and the music that set the tone. I was riveted. The ending was criticized at the press conference for being "too Hollywood," and Andrew Niccol replied, "We don't know what the ending is.""Good Kill" is a deeply human story, and the ending is the right ending. It is a MUST SEE.

Ciao from the Venice Film Festival,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

P.S. This snippet review from the English-language version of ANSA, the Italian news wire, is not accurate from my point of view. At the press screening I attended in the Sala Grande at 11:30 AM, there was no booing whatsoever. If someone booed at the earlier screening, well, I would not be the least bit surprised if it was a stunt. "Good Kill" is excellent, and the CIA has every reason to want you not to see it.