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Room in Solarussa's historical building

While the title and theme of our XVI issue is a tribute to Umberto Eco, its format is inspired by Mark Cousins' manifesto for a 'fantasy' festival, described by the Irish director and documentary filmmaker in 2020.

The film festival of his dreams: one hundred films, no red carpet, no VIP area and films chosen by economist Amartya Sen and country singer Dolly Parton. And projected onto their bedsheets.

According to Cousins, in a more recent interview published by our blog in 2022, most film festivals are pretty similar, pretty stereotypical. A film festival should instead be a creative event. It's not enough to just pick the movies, put them on a schedule, and pick the guests. We need to innovate the form.

Again according to Cousins At festivals, 'high' culture and 'low' culture should coexist. They should be super accessible to uneducated people. One should not be afraid of children. One should not be afraid of melodrama. We should mix everything with the internet and innovation, in order to become accessible to all and spread an understandable message.”

“In too many film festivals, you buy your ticket online, show up, there's a guest, there's an introduction, there's a debate, Q&A sessions, and then you go out. And the next audience comes in. We need to change this structure. We have to imagine that we are data artists, punks. That's why Tilda Swinton and I took a cinema lorry through the Scottish Highlands and brought it into local communities: because it had never been done before. I think many festivals have lost the sense of play and childhood.”

Organizing a film festival is like making a film. First of all, you create a world, just like Steven Spielberg did. The festival must have its own specific atmosphere and a key element is the location.”

An event every day of the festival, personally conducted by an artistic direction composed by two protagonists of the Sardinian scene.

Another important suggestion came from Neil McGlone, film critic and film festival organiser in the UK. Neil has been organizing a festival in Sussex for years where great emphasis is given to entertainment. How do you get the public back in cinemas? According to Neil, an element of entertainment is needed to get people out of their homes – and this shouldn't be perceived as a compromise, on the contrary. This is exactly what we are offering to the audience of our festival this year.

And finally, inspiration for the development of our theme came from a sentence by Giorgio Manganelli:

“A museum is made up of unique objects. Each example is a prey, unearthed, excavated, stolen, corrupted, exchanged, stolen”.

A large collection of unique items. Each fictional film, documentary, mockumentary, animation, important reference work or first attempt by an adolescent author, is a unique object, a cultural product with its own poetics that we respect.

This is why we have tried to create an event characterized by great ecosystem diversity, diversity of products and processes. And the hunt for the artifact, for the object, for the book, for the painting, is the privileged theme of heist movies. Why libraries? Because even books are museum objects. Let's think of a paper index of subjects. Hence the great mass of books, objects, traces, collections, blobs. And as historian Carlo Ginzburg points out, quoting Aby Warburg in one of the scheduled documentaries, "the book you need is next to the one you are looking for".

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This week Mark Cousins, the prolific Irish-Scottish director and critic, author of texts and documentaries on the history of cinema, is a guest at the Biografilm festival in Bologna, where he presents three of his works. His accessible style and enthusiasm have made his documentaries and essays extremely popular: above all his monumental "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" (in 15 episodes); more recently, "The Story of Looking" (2017). At 'terre di confine filmfestival', years ago, we screened his documentary 6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia (UK/Italy/2014/85') thanks to the collaboration of Laura Marcellino (co-author of the script) and the artistic direction of Paolo Zucca.

Mark is friendly, informal, empathetic. We asked him some questions about film festivals and film education.

The following is a transcription of our conversation. An Italian translation is available here.

Q. The first question is about the article you wrote on the Guardian two years ago. You described your dream film festival, 100 movies no red carpet no VIP area and movies chosen by Amartya Sen and Dolly Parton. And projected on their bed sheets. Is there a film festival which has managed to apply a similar formula?

A. I think a lot of film festivals are quite similar, quite formulaic. A film festival should be a creative event. It’s not that you just choose films and slot them in and pick guests. You have to innovate with the form. So the festival that I heard about that I think has been the most innovative recently was in Sweden, in Goteborg, when they decided to make a whole festival with an audience of one. And they chose a health worker, a nurse, and they showed the whole festival to her in a lighthouse in Sweden.

That's exciting, that's electrifying. I think that there are so many film festivals in the world now that really, really need to innovate with. With form with atmosphere, with aesthetics, with class. That's why I've got Dolly Parton in there. Festivals should be high and low all together. They should be super accessible to uneducated people. Shouldn't be afraid of kids. Shouldn't be afraid of melodrama, but mix it up with real internet and innovation, so accessible to everybody and also spreading a message which is understandable.

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Sabato scorso, partenza per la XIV edizione del “terre di confine filmfestival”, che nell’anteprima negli spazi di “Casa Naitana a Solarussa ha accolto il ritorno di uno storico direttore artistico come Paolo Zucca, che già in passato aveva guidato due importanti edizioni.

A catalizzare l’attenzione del pubblico, numeroso come sempre, è stata la proiezione di due opere profondamente attinenti alle tematiche della rassegna, “Cercando Grazia” e “L’uomo del mercato”, presentate dalle autrici Paola Cireddu e Maria Grazia Perria, che hanno interagito a lungo con il pubblico, rispondendo alle domande e raccontando aneddoti e curiosità sui film.  

Quest’anno sono tante le sfide e le criticità che attendono gli organizzatori dell’associazione Su Disterru presieduta da Sandro Sarai, organizzatrice del festival fin dal lontano 2005 ad Asuni. Come hanno spiegato Paolo Zucca e il sindaco di Solarussa,Mario Tendas, le limitazioni dovute alla pandemia potrebbero intralciare l’interscambio e il confronto tra la cultura cinematografica sarda e quella del Paese ospite, non rendendo agevole l’arrivo di autori e registi internazionali come nel migliore spirito del festival.

«Il focus quest’anno potrebbe essere sulla Serbia – ha anticipato Zucca – perché stiamo portando avanti un gemellaggio con il Festival di Ravno Selo, un’iniziativa che nasce con i nostri stessi obiettivi, quelli di rivitalizzare territori lontani dal mainstream attraverso il cinema, l’arte e la cultura. Si svolge in mezzo ai campi di mais, lontano da Belgrado e dalle altre grandi città della Serbia. Nei prossimi mesi cercheremo di capire se sia fattibile, ma il “terre di confine” va avanti con la nostra volontà di portare il cinema dove spesso non arriva, con determinazione, allegria e grande convivialità».

Nelle foto, il direttore artistico Paolo Zucca con la registe Paola Cireddu e Maria Grazia Perria, e il pubblico a Solarussa. (Foto: Redazione) 

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