7th Molise Cinema Festival (Italy, August 4-9, 2009)
Looking for Identity
by Mohsen Beigagha
Casacalenda is a village located on the outskirts of Campobasso in Italy’s Molise province. The mountains around Casacalenda are similar to north Iran, especially Kelardasht and both regions are prone to earthquakes. If Sarajevo Film Festival rose out of the ashes of a five-year war with Serbs, MoliseCinema started seven years ago following a severe earthquake in Molise province. The destruction of the quake can still be seen on the façade of buildings. This year’s festival included 23 films in international short film competition section, 13 films in national short film competition section, 6 films in documentary films section and 9 features.
Baghdad Barber (Massoud Bakhshi) was chosen out of 11 Iranian short films for the festival and was screened in international competition section. Massoud Bakhshi and the leading actor, Adnan Shah-Talaei, are both writing for the Iranian film magazines. Performance of Shah-Talaei, with that heavy makeup which greatly disguises his face, as the poor barber is amazing. The film was welcomed at the festival and everybody looked for Massoud Bakhshi, who had not gone to the festival. Last year’s festival also screened two films on Iran: Vali Asr – July 2006 by Norman Richter, which focused on Vali Asr Avenue, which is the longest street in Tehran and the passers-by and an 86-minute documentary called Tehran Under Cover about Iranian women football team, which was directed by Ayat Najafi and David Assmann.
Festival officials are not willing to make it an international event, but in reality, facilities in Casacalenda do not allow for a bigger festival. A primary facility for such events is accommodations for guests and the village hosting the festival has no hotels. If a hotel were built, new coverage by foreign correspondents would turn the festival into an international event. Perhaps, if the government helped the festival by building a hotel, there would be no other major problem left because movie theaters are fully at the service of the festival. Roma Theater, which is the main movie theater screening festival’s films and is located at the village square, was reconstructed during the current year and renamed Nuovo Cinema Roma. A film was screened on reconstruction of the theater before the beginning of the festival.
Inhabitants of Molise have a special affinity to cinema. In the Argentinean film, Corpus Domini in Mardel Plata (Miguel Monforte), which was screened as part of a program to exchange films with independent Mardel Plata Festival (not to be mistaken with the famous Mardel Plata Festival), a filmmaker from Molise talks about this Argentinean city where immigrants from Molise live. They have been holding their religious rituals for 15 years with along with special cookies and music. However, the inhabitants of Molise in the Canadian city of Montreal are more active in this regard and this has been shown in The Rhythm of Heart (Francesco D’lmperio). The film depicts the famous ceremony of playing music using long sticks inside wooden barrels, which is known as Bufu, in addition to other traditional ceremonies which have been taken to various parts of the world by inhabitants of Molise. Following the World War II, people of Molise, like most of Italy, left their country to find jobs and get away from spiraling economic crisis. They came together many years later and established close ties inside their community. Therefore, years after leaving their homeland, they still observe their traditional ceremonies. Interestingly, the bonds between inhabitants of Molise in and out of the country are still strong and when films are screened, inhabitants of Molise and Casacalenda recognize their relatives on the silver screen. The Wood (Paolo Siciliano and Eugenio Lasserre) was screened in the section dedicated to exchange of films with independent Mardel Plata Festival. It is about a lonely man which puts up a young lost couple at his own home where strange things happen.
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