"Until 30 years of age you have the face God gave you", goes a Portuguese saying, "after that you have the face you deserve." With this insert Miguel Gomes begins his 2004 feature film debut The Face You Deserve (A Cara Que Mereces), which deals with a man turning 30. And to watch that uniquely quirky film at this year's Torino Film Festival, as part of a Tribute to the Portuguese filmmaker's work, seemed especially fitting, because the festival itself reached that age this year. So let's hope there is some truth to that saying, because, if so, this festival's 'face' should be looking good in years to come, regardless of the Rome Film Festival's emergence as a fierce competitor for the rank of Italy's second-most important event (after Venice) on the international festival circuit. In any case, filmmaker Gianni Amelio, in his last year as TFF Director, and Deputy Director Emanuela Martini deserve praise for a program which, on the whole, boasted a high level of quality, with no fillers in the line-up (or, at least, none that this critic came across).
Founded in 1982 as the Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani (Festival of Young Cinema), the event still focuses on the more youthful representatives of world cinema. The Feature Film Competition, which is reserved for directors making their first, second or third films, was comprised of 16 films, with the majority being debut features. All in all, 223 titles were showcased in a variety of sections and screened in three downtown multiplexes (all located in architecturally interesting buildings), with a truly terrific Joseph Losey retrospective deserving special mention. The festival also marked the conclusion of the 5th Torino Film Lab, which offers training, development and economic support to filmmakers working on their first and second feature films. Postcards from the Zoo (Kebun Binatang) by Indonesian filmmaker Edwin, which charmed festival goers in this year's Berlinale competition, attests to the initiative's success and was among six new films by Lab-alumni which were screened at the festival. A 'Gran Premio Torino', intended as a sort of lifetime achievement award, was given to Ettore Scola. Ken Loach, who was supposed to receive the award as well, declined to attend out of solidarity with an employee enmeshed in a labor dispute with a subcontractor at the city’s National Museum of Cinema.
Signs of the country's economic strife could also be detected when unionists protested in front of the RAI buildings, which served as the TFF's headquarters. However, attending the festival as a foreign film critic turned out to be an extremely pleasant, relaxed experience — if only it had not rained cats and dogs for three days in a row. When you didn't have one pair of dry shoes left, the friendliness of everyone involved was, of course, especially appreciated. (Holger Römers)
Torino Film Festival: www.torinofilmfest.org