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Wrapping up the 17th edition with a wonderful selection of winners in Ischia


The crowning moments of a week in the name of great cinema and civil commitment

The eight days (plus one, including the pre-opening dedicated to Bernardo Bertolucci with an ad-hoc exhibition ) of the Ischia Film Festival 2019 come to an end with the victory of one of the “jewels” found by co-directors Michelangelo Messina and Boris Sollazzo, Club de Jazz, a Cuaròn-like music-centred movie that won over the jury and public on Aragonese Castle: a success and recognition the main festivals, from Cannes to Berlin, have unexplainably not granted this movie, that went largely unnoticed. Esteban Insausti will be a future master and the fact that the movie’s breath-taking photography was shown in Ischia “makes us very proud” – declared the two directors. Thanks to the IFF’s relentless research, the location of this club presented us with unique emotions. Great satisfactions have come also for the Italian cinema, with the prize for best set design to Michele Modaferri for Il bene mio by Pippo Mezzapesa and the prize for best actor, handed out by Artisti 7607, to Vinicio Marchioni for Cronofobia by Francesco Rizzi. After the career prize awarded by Diva e Donna, all jury members agreed upon Radha Mitchell as best lead actress with her both classical and modern heroine in Celeste: an impressive beauty and talent that seduced the audience and jury members. Josh Melrod deservedly won the award for best direction for the surprising movie Major Arcana, representing the best US indie tradition, while Kazantzakis by Yannis Smaragdis received the prize for best photography.

Particularly noteworthy is the victory, among documentary films, of A family in a sinkhole, about the survival of a family literally sunk into the crater of the last Chinese industrial revolution, that has quickly changed the appearance of locations – a reflection that is key for a festival focused on locations and the related narrative and analysis.

Also the palmarès of the section Location Negata (denied location), always interested in global peripheries and violated rights, was a very committed, almost militant one: the special mention for the silent, heart-breaking Aleppo: the silence of the war speaks volumes. The main award, however, goes to Selfie by Agostino Ferrente, a (self-)portrait of two teenagers of the neighbourhood Rione Traiano who try to counter in a determined and tender manner the stereotypes about their generation and those who live in the sketchy neighbourhoods of Naples, “denied locations” within short distance from us.

The best short film is Cold Fish, winning the prize offered by Mini Italia, present at the festival with the wonderful, much appreciated Una tradizione di famiglia as part of a new milestone of the Mini Film Lab, with a Special Mention to Man Stands Still – two original and provocative, personal and intimate reflections about life and what we expect from it.

Scenari Campani, the most recently introduced IFF competition, saw the triumph of Ciro D'Emilio with Un giorno all'improvviso, a movie with extraordinary Anna Foglietta as lead actress depicting the everyday life of a mother and son among disappointment, illusions, frustrations and hopes of those who often survives only thanks to dreams that cannot be realized. Two Special Mentions go to the enjoyable 'O p'nneon and Così in terra, by Mauro Di Rosa and Pier Lorenzo Pisano, awarded by the Jury with the most “liked” Jury of festival, namely the team of actors Casa Surace.

Sums made, the edition no. 17 turned out to be a lucky one – especially for the Italian cinema.

Feature Film Competition

Jury: Sanya Borisova, Luca Bellino, Peppino Mazzotta

Best Direction | Josh Melrod for Major Arcana

Best Set Design | Il bene mio by Pippo Mezzapesa

Best Photography | Kazantzakis by Yannis Smaragdisy

Best Actress | Radha Mitchell for Celeste

Best Actor | Vinicio Marchioni for Cronofobia

Best Film | Club de jazz by Esteban Insausti

Motivation: For its ability to combine emotion and reflection in a precious balance between aesthetics and narration. Music becomes the scalpel able to section bodies and destinies of individuals, turning them into a universal metaphor.

Documentary Competition

Jury: Silvia Luzi, Corrado Fortuna, Stefano Russo

Best Documentary | A family in the sinkhole by Zubiao Yao

Motivation: For the daring choice to dive into a sinkhole, and to take us into this sunken crater so rich in life. Zubiao Yao tells in a poetic and ironic manner about the sense of belonging and the need for a revolution, and that fight for survival affecting all of us.

Short Film Competition

Jury: Claudio Cervera, Davide Laezza, Chiara Pilato, Ester Scotti, Giulia Scotti, Piero Barbieri and the youngsters of Forum Giovani Ischia

Special Mention | Man Stands Still by David Lindinger

Motivation: For an uncommon but very original and appreciable manner of using light, that becomes – in this charming story – a scenic tool turning into a narrative element, the Young Jury decided to award a Special Mention for the photography to the short film Man Stands Still.

Best Short Film | Cold Fish by David Hay

Motivation: Thanks to a skilful direction, to a flawless acting and a perfect photography, but above all to the use of the surrounding environment that becomes a fully-fledged protagonist of the story, the Young Jury unanimously awards the prize as best short film to Cold Fish.

Competition “Location Negata”

Jury: Pietro Macello, Laura Aimone, Giorgio Gosetti

Special Mention | Aleppo: The silence of the war by Amir Osanlou

Motivation: The Jury awards a Special Mention to the movie Aleppo: the silence of the war by Amir Osanlou for a portrait of a “denied location” in the most poetic and convincing way, by accurately avoiding rhetoric or scandalistic tones. It is a movie that depicts different declinations of lack and loss, fragments of things and existences taken from life and death.

Best Film | Selfie by Agostino Ferrente

Motivation: The Jury decides to award the prize as best film to Selfie by Agostino Ferrente, for the rare ability of the director to use the natural mode of documentary film to create complex narrative constructions. With its impeccable editing, the movie offers an immersive cross section of a neighbourhood that is very difficult to access from outside. While being very well balanced, it manages to be ironic, while at the same time punching you hard in the stomach.

Competition “Scenari Campani”

Jury: The members of Casa Surace

Special Mention | 'O p'nneon by Mauro Di Rosa

Motivation: Devoted to all those who try and foster the traditions of their countries with sacrifice, passion and dedication, in the belief that it is possible to build a more solid future only by rediscovering the strength of one’s roots – like the protagonists of 'O p'nneon.

Special Mention |Così in terra by Pier Lorenzo Pisano

Motivation: For the ability to tell in a very light-hearted manner about the devastating impact of a natural disaster that left rubble and debris not only in physical places but also in the human soul. In our opinion it was right to encourage this work that shares in a few images the message that Casa Surace has been trying to convey over the years: to start from the small towns all over Italy in order to build a collective identity via a new perspective considering the Italian “boot-shaped” geography not in vertical but in horizontal terms.

Best Film | Un giorno all’improvviso by Ciro D’Emilio

Motivation: For its lucid and profound depiction of the context of an underprivileged periphery where the drama of a mother and, above all, of a son who – notwithstanding the indifference and superficiality of the social context where they live – try to emerge via the values based on family and work. Since we try to promote the beauty of our territories, we chose to award a disadvantaged scenario where there is still a lot to do but that shows a grace expressing the hope of a rebirth.

Audience Prize

In the section “Best Of” L’uomo che comprò la luna by Paolo Zucca

The 17th edition of the Ischia Film Festival took place from June 29th to July 6th 2019 and was realized thanks to the contribution of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture – Directorate General Cinema, of the Campania Region, the Municipality of Ischia, and with the support of Campari, BPER Banca, Artisti 7607 and Mini.


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