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Wednesday, 10 May 2023 10:36

#Giffoni53: here are the first titles in competition

War tensions, climate change, women's conditions, violence, bullying, but also human interaction with animals, adventure, the importance of friendship, the discovery of love and the construction of one's identity and social bonds: these are just a few of the themes addressed by the first titles selected for #Giffoni53, scheduled from July 20 to 29.

The works selected to date come from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the U.S. and, for the first time ever, Bangladesh.

Feature films, short films and documentaries will be watched and judged by more than 6 thousand Italian and international jurors representing delegations coming from over 30 countries.

It is precisely the jurors who will choose the winners of the Gryphon Award.

Here are the first titles: 

ELEMENTS +3 (3 to 5 years old)
The animated features out of competition selected for Giffoni’s youngest audience are two so far. Produced by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, The Websters Movie is directed by Katarína Kerekesova. Based on a series, the film follows the adventures of a family of spiders, the Websters. Lili, one of the youngest in the family, is about to live a great adventure: meeting a human girl! Will the two be able to develop a friendship that can overcome the differences that separate them? The protagonists of the Norwegian Teddy's Christmas, directed by Andrea Eckerbom, are Mariann and Teddy Bear. When the little girl finds out that the bear is in fact alive, she desperately wants to have him as a Christmas present. Teddy, on the other hand, dreams of a rich little owner who can give him a chance to discover the world, but he soon has to come to terms with reality and understand what really matters. The film will be distributed in Italy by Lucky Red.

ELEMENTS +6 (6 to 9 years old)
Adventure and friendship are the main themes of the first four feature films selected for the Elements +6 section. In the Canadian title Adventures in the land of Asha, the first feature film directed by Sophie Farkas Bolla, Jules and his family move to a settler village in northern Québec. Jules has a rare skin disease and is banned from school because of it. From then on, his only desire is to be healed. When his dog Spark runs away, Jules follows him into the forest, which turns out to be full of life and secrets. Co-produced by Norway and Belgium, the animated film Titina, directed by Kajsa Naess, is about the true story of the little dog Titina, the four-legged star who took part in the first expedition to the North Pole aboard an airship. This is the director's debut feature film and will be distributed in Italy by Bim Distribuzione. The Norwegian Just Super is an animated film directed by Rasmus André Sivertsen. The main character is young Hedvig, who accidentally shrinks her father's superhero costume. The man can no longer defend the city and must find an heir to succeed him. However, the girl's clumsiness makes him seem unwilling to choose Hedvig. The film director already presented several works at the Festival: in 2002, the short film Guggen The big cheese (First Screens); in 2014, the film Louis & Luca and the snow machine (Elements +3); in 2017, the film In the forest of Huckybucky (Elements +3); and in 2021, the film Captain Sabertooth and the magic diamond (premiered out of competition). In the French A cat's life, directed by Guillaume Maidatchevsky, little Clémence and her kitten Rroû spend their holidays in the countryside. The two will explore the forest together and get to know the charming kitten Câline. The film will be distributed in Italy by Plaion Pictures. The director is a specialist in animal films and documentaries; indeed, he also directed Ailo’s Journey, which was released in Italy in 2019.

ELEMENTS +10 (10 to 12 years old)
Identity, love and social relationships are the main topics of the first three feature films selected for jurors aged 10 to 12. The Dutch film Totem, directed by Sander Burger, unfolds the painful story of Ama. The daughter of Senegalese asylum-seekers who are about to be expelled from the country, Ama feels deeply Dutch. When her mother and brother get arrested, she needs to go to Rotterdam in search of her father. On her journey, however, she will not be alone. Indeed, she will be flanked by her totem animal, that is, her guiding light: a huge hedgehog. In Dancing Queen, by Norwegian director Aurora Gossé, young Mina is a nerd who desperately wants to fit in with her new class and most importantly to impress E.D. Win, a young hip-hop dancer with thousands of followers on Instagram. Despite her insecurities, Mina decides to enter a dance competition and begins training with the help of her grandmother, a resourceful woman. Will Mina succeed in becoming a dancing queen? In 2018, the film director presented the film Casper and Emma go treasure hunting, co-directed with Arne Lindtner Naess, in the Elements +3 section. The American Popular Theory, directed by Ali Scher, follows 12-year-old Erwin Page, a girl genius who is also the youngest student in high school. Unfortunately she struggles with social isolation. When she meets fellow science guru, Winston, they team up to invent a chemical that changes the high school hierarchy forever.

GENERATOR +13 (13 to 15 years old)
Four feature films have been selected so far, three of which (Sea Sparkle, Big Boys and A Summer in Boujad) are debut works. Sea Sparkle (Belgium, the Netherlands, 2023) is inspired by director Domien Huyghe's personal story and follows the grief of Lena, a teenage daughter of a sailor. Unable to accept her father's loss, she wants to prove to the fishing community in a suburb of Ostend that he was killed by a sea monster. Her determination will make her embark on several adventures and clash with those who do not believe her, until she braves the depths of the sea in order to finally give substance to her grief. Juniors (France, 2022) portrays the friendship between Jordan and Patrick: they are 14 years old, live in a small country town in southern France, and fight boredom by playing Call Of Duty. However, when their PlayStation 4 crashes, they have an idea that will help them buy a new console: make everyone believe that Jordan has cancer and start an online fundraiser abroad. But little do they know what they'll be up against... The cast of Hugo Thomas' film also features French actress Vanessa Paradis as Jordan's mother. Big Boys (USA, 2023) by director Corey Sherman, is a heartfelt, intimate, exciting and above all contemporary coming-of-age story. Jamie is 14 years old and is about to spend a weekend camping with his brother Luke and cousin Allie. When he finds out that the girl is bringing her new boyfriend Dan with her, he doesn't really like the news. However, he is impressed by his personality and decides to deepen their friendship and create a special bond. A Summer in Boujad (Morocco, France, Belgium 2022), directed by Omar Mouldouira, takes us to the hot summer of 1986. Seven years after the death of his mother, 13-year-old Karim leaves Paris for Morocco with his father Messaoud, who has remarried and decided to spend the summer in Boujad. Amidst a sense of estrangement over cultural differences and his efforts to find a place in his new family, Karim will have to come to terms with his origins and his father's sense of guilt.

GENERATOR +16 (16 to 17 years old)
I like movies, debut feature by director Chandler Levack (Canada) tells the story of Lawrence, who knows everything about movies, from Hollywood classics to the most obscure independent masterpieces. A pure cinephile, there is no plot, actor or director he cannot instantly quote. He would much rather spend his time discussing Pulp Fiction or his beloved Punch-Drunk Love than socializing with other, intolerable human beings. However, life unavoidably forces him to come out of his hideout, to step out of the movie theater and face reality, the problems of adolescence, and himself. With his armor off, Lawrence seems lost, like a movie character trying to survive in the real world. Bittersweet Rain, by Haroldo Borges (Brazil), revolves around the story of Bruno, who discovers he has a degenerative eye disease that will eventually make him blind. As he tries to come to terms with this harsh truth, he also experiences the turmoil, problems and sorrows of adolescence, including an inevitable unrequited first love. The loss of sight forces Bruno to experience isolation, fear and loneliness, but he also develops new skills, discovers new ways of relating to others and reinvents his relationship with the world.

GENERATOR +18 (18 years old and up)
Bullying, women's conditions and violence are the main themes addressed in the first three feature films selected to compete in the section targeting 18-year-olds and older. North of Albany (Canada, 2022) directed by filmmaker Marianne Farley, is the story of Annie, a single mother who frantically flees Montréal for the United States with her young son Felix and teenage daughter Sarah, fearing repercussions after the latter has severely injured the school bully. When Sarah realizes her secret is out in the open, she runs away, forcing Annie to come to terms with her own parenting. This is the first feature film by Marianne Farley, who received an Oscar nomination in 2019 for the short Marguerite. The two lead actresses starred in other films presented at Giffoni. Céline Bonnier (Annie) played the role of Sister Augustine in the film The Passion of Augustine by Léa Pool, which was presented in the Generator +13 section in 2015, while Zeneb Blanchet (Sarah) was Nadine in the film Goddess of the fireflies by Anaïs-Barbeau Lavalette, screened in the Generator +18 section in 2020. Elaha (Germany, 2023), the first feature film directed by Milena Aboyan, deals with a sensitive topic, namely the condition and cultural-religious impositions of girls in a Kurdish community in Germany. Elaha, a 22-year-old German-Kurdish young woman, is about to get married. She is engaged to Nasim, the brother of her employer. Her in-laws-to-be demand medical proof of her virginity, but Elaha has already had sex, which thus raises a problem. This makes Elaha begin to question the rules: why does she have to be a virgin anyway? And for whom? Young director Damien Hauser's Theo: a conversation with honesty (Switzerland, 2022) boldly explores sexual violence and consent through the experience of protagonist Simi, a teenager perturbed by his own virginity and struggling with a toxic concept of masculinity. After having a nonconsensual intercourse with young Tamara, Simi tries to convince both himself and then others of his innocence until, with the support of a friend and his alter ego, he comes to grips with the truth.

GEX DOC (section aimed at teachers, parents and filmgoers)
We will not fade away (Ukraine, Poland, France) by director Alisa Kovalenko, follows the journey of five teenagers living in Ukraine's Donbass region. The nightmare of war looms over them and the future is shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty. Nevertheless, they try to preserve their everyday life and build their way forward. A Himalayan expedition offers them a brief escape from reality and eventually gives the protagonists a lasting memory that will bind them together forever, in spite of everything. Things I Could Never Tell My Mother (Bangladesh, France) is a debut feature film by director Humaira Bilkis. Her mother was an independent-minded woman who defied Bangladeshi conventions by keeping her own name rather than taking her husband's and by writing poetry about freedom. Yet, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, she became a highly devout Muslim and now constantly quotes the Quran. After finishing her studies at the film academy in India, Humaira temporarily goes back to Bangladesh to live with her parents. A free-spirited and lay woman, she is very different from her mother, and her relationship with a non-Muslim man poses the risk of great friction. In her debut feature, Humaira Bilkis delivers an intimate and personal portrait of family relationships and shows how emotional bonds can bridge any distance, despite their diversity. This is the first-ever Bangladeshi film in competition at Giffoni. Mighty Afrin: in the time of floods (Greece-France, 2023) tells the story of Afrin, who grows up on a small island on the Brahmaputra river. At the age of 12, she loses her mother and is left alone. Now that she is of age, heavy rains and floodwaters devastate the island on which she lives. Afrin resolves to go to Dhaka looking for her father, who is lost among the millions of climate refugees arriving in the huge city each year. Forced to grow up fast, Afrin must deal with the mysteries of a sinking world where the first to be affected are the last. The third film by Greek director Angelos Rallis, presented at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Mighty Afrin: in the time of floods is a documentary-fiction that, besides following the coming-of-age journey of the main character Afrin, addresses major contemporary social and global issues such as women's empowerment, human rights and climate justice.

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