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Asked to describe Filipino actress Nora Aunor, Italian Senator Goffredo Bettini said in French: “Magnifique! Magnifique!”
When talk turned to Filipino filmmaker Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Cristina Moricca, the interpreter tasked to help the Philippine Daily Inquirer, once again took a break.
Bettini waxed rhapsodic. Unequivocally, he said: “Mendoza is one of the great masters of the world.”
The moving force behind Moviemov: Italian Film Festival, Bettini was clearly impressed by Mendoza and Aunor’s collaboration on “Thy Womb,” which competed in Venice last September.
He met Mendoza for the second time at the screening of “Captive” in Rome, held at the Moviemov: Asian Cinema Now festival, recently.
(Moviemov is a traveling festival with editions in Rome, Bangkok, New Delhi and Manila.)
Bettini said that not a few Italian critics have embraced Filipino films, hailed in Europe as the “Philippine New Wave.”
“People were excited to watch Mendoza’s films,” he recounted.
He saw an “affinity between Mendoza’s works and the neorealist classics of Italian cinema.”
Before World War II, Italian cinema focused on the lives of the bourgeoisie, he recounted. With the advent of neo-realism, “the camera was thrown into the streets.”
Bettini saw the same “gritty, poetic” realism in Mendoza’s oeuvre.
He observed: “Mendoza loves his characters. His camera hovers close to them. He focuses on the flesh and bones … He tells the story with simple looks, with gentle smiles, with moments of silence.”
He compared Aunor to “great Italian artist Eduardo del Filippo.”
“Del Filippo was able to convey emotions with minimum movements, small gestures. In acting, the more you scream and shout, the less powerful the scene becomes. Aunor’s strength comes from within.”
(An entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival, “Thy Womb” recently received an “A” grade from the Cinema Evaluation Board.)
During the Moviemov fest in Rome, Mendoza had the chance to interact with Italian artists and cineastes as well.
“A question struck me during the open forum. An audience member asked Mendoza: ‘How are you able to come up with complex movies despite the limited budget?’ A student was curious about his documentary filmmaking style,” Bettini recounted.
The Italian lawmaker recalled Mendoza’s explanation: “He said that, although his films look unstructured, they entailed a lot of planning. The main difference is that the actors are not told what would happen next. The result is acting that is natural, fresh and spontaneous.”
A similar interaction between renowned Italian critic Piera Detassis and Filipino film students and other enthusiasts during the Moviemov fest in Manila is scheduled today as well.
Detassis is the artistic director of the Festival del Cinema di Roma.
As part of a film education program, two screenings at the Moviemov fest will be devoted to public high school (10 a.m.) and university (2 p.m.) students.
The Moviemov Italian film fest is ongoing at Greenbelt mall in Makati until December 9.