Faith — in a religious, philosophical or political sense — and the absence of faith were the main themes of this year's 69th Venice Film Festival. Trust in God was the subject of "Paradise: Faith" ("Paradies: Glaube") by Ulrich Seidl; trust in Scientology's way of thinking in "The Master" by Paul Thomas Anderson; trust in the ideals of the late 60s in "Something in the Air" ("Après mai") by Olivier Assayas; trust in the Hebrew law in "Fill the Void" ("Lemale et ha'halal") by Rama Burshtein; trust in love in "To the Wonder" by Terrence Malick. On the other hand, general distrust, in everyone and everything, seemed to be the main motif of "Pieta" by Kim Ki-duk (winner of this year's Golden Lion), of "Spring Breakers" by Harmony Korine, of "Outrage Beyond" by Takeshi Kitano. And these latter titles — except for the Israeli film and "To the Wonder" — were probably the most interesting films of this year's festival ("La cinquième saison" by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, and "Sinapupunan" by Brillante Mendoza should also be added to this list).
2012 was the year of Alberto Barbera's return as Director of the Festival (he was director from 1999 to 2001), and even if the level of the competition was not too high (partly due to the disappointment of highly anticipated films by Brian de Palma, Terrence Malick and Marco Bellocchio), the festival's machine worked well. Fewer films in competition, a simple free wi-fi connection for accredited press in many areas, smart scheduling, and many other small improvements made this edition more enjoyable than the last.
The Orizzonti section was particularly interesting, with many different films from all over the world. A delightful surprise was "L'intervallo" by Leonardo di Costanzo, an Italian-Swiss production that tells the very simple and moving tale of two teenagers, a boy and a girl, who meet for one day during a mafia incident in an abandoned villa in the suburbs of Naples. Another deserving and touching Italian film was "Gli equilibristi" by Ivano De Matteo. Both of these pictures were better than the films by Bellocchio and Francesca Comencini in competition, but they were probably excluded due to their wider fame. In summary, Barbera's new direction seems promising, although it may still be too early to tell. (Francesca Felletti)
Venice Film Festival: www.labiennale.org