Italian films get mixed reaction at Venice festival

Thu Sep 9, 2010 10:55am EDT
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By Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - The four Italian films in competition at this year's Venice film festival have failed to generate much buzz, with none seen as a serious contender for the top Golden Lion prize that will be awarded on Saturday.

Most applauded by the domestic press was "We Believed" by Mario Martone, is a 3-1/2 hour historical epic about the years that led to the unification of Italy as a single state in the 19th century.

But despite casting some of the country's most respected actors, and handing out some clues about how that period influenced contemporary Italy, it cut no ice with foreign critics.

Hollywood Reporter, a trade publication, called it an "arid, anonymous made-for-TV film" that plays "like a disjointed, rhetorical Wikipedia entry."

Another film that was much talked about in the run-up to the festival, once the showcase of great Italian cinema, was Saverio Costanzo's "The Solitude of Prime Numbers," the coming-of-age story of two awkward, traumatized teenagers.

An adaptation of a novel which won Italy's most prestigious literary prize and has sold more than a million copies worldwide, it had a lukewarm reaction at a press screening on Thursday.

"The Black Sheep," comedian Ascanio Celestini's directorial debut, was praised both by Italian and foreign critics for its personal tale of the world of mental institutions.

But neither of those themes seem likely to impress the head of the festival jury, Quentin Tarantino, who had the domestic film industry up in arms three years ago when he called new Italian cinema "depressing."   Continued...