ROME – Two of the leading Italian figures at the Venice Film Festival are saying enough is enough bad experiences at the Venice Film festival: director Marco Bellocchio said he will never again bring a film to the world’s oldest film festival and jury member Matteo Garrone vowed to never again serve on an Italian festival jury after the lack of prizes for Italian productions sparked an outrage.
Bellocchio’s euthanasia drama Bella Addormentata (Dormant Beauty), one of three Italian films screening in competition in Venice, was applauded by critics, with some tapping it as a contender for major hardware at the festival. But instead, it earned only a minor prize: the Marcello Mastroianni Award, given to the best new young actor, which was won by supporting actor Fabrizio Falco, who won the prize for his work in two different films.
Bellocchio’s film is a fictional account centered on the real-life story of Eluana Englaro, who in 2009 was taken off life support and allowed to die at the age of 39, 17 years after she went into a coma following a car accident. The director, who was given Venice’s career achievement Golden Lion last year, rejected speculation that a film with an Italian theme was “too small” to win a major festival, and said that Venice did not treat Italian films appropriately.
“Never again will I bring a film to Venice,” said the director, who has been nominated for the Venice Golden Lion three times to go along with six Cannes Palme d’Or nominations.
An Italian film has not won the Golden Lion in Venice since 1998, when it was won by Cosi ridevano (The Way We Laughed) from Gianni Amelio, now in his last year as artistic director at the Turin Film Festival.
Meanwhile, Garrone, a two-time Cannes jury prize winner and the only Italian member of the festival’s main competition jury, was criticized in the Italian press after Italian productions won so little hardware at the festival, under the artistic direction of Alberto Barbera, who returned to the job after ten years away.
Aside from Falco, the next most important award that went to an Italian was for the Best Technical Contribution, to E stat ail Figlio (The Son Was Here) from Daniele Cipri, the second film Falco appeared in.
For his part, Garrone said being on the jury was “a nightmare,” and he vowed to never again appear on a jury in Italy.
Bellocchio and Garrone may yet have the last laugh. Their latest films, Bella Addormentata for Bellocchio and Reality for Garrone, are among the three films industry insiders speculate will end up being Italy’s nominee for the Oscars, along with Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die), the Berlin Golden Bear winner from the venerable Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.