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Alice nella Città - Roma

Alice nella Città 2023: from female storytelling to great animation

todaySeptember 27, 2023

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The program of the XXI edition presented by the Directors Fabia Bettini and Gianluca Giannelli.

Today, in a highly anticipated press conference, the Directors of Alice nella Città, Fabia Bettini and Gianluca Giannelli, unveiled the complete and exciting program of the twenty-first edition of the festival, scheduled from October 18 to October 29, 2023. This independent section of the Rome Film Festival is known for its commitment to cinematic innovation and the promotion of new talent and takes pride in dedicating a significant portion of its program to the exceptional female talent in the world of cinema.

Female Storytelling

A scene from the film How to Have Sex

This year, the festival introduces several new initiatives, including the decision to spotlight works that place female protagonists at the centre of the stories being told. In fact, four out of the ten films in the competition are directed by talented female directors and offer a profound exploration of the female world, making the most of the talent of their actresses.

One of the most significant choices was to open the twenty-first edition of Alice nella Città with the film “How To Have Sex” which has already been acclaimed as the winner in the Un certain Regard section at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Director Molly Manning Walker and co-star Mia McKenna-Bruce will be in Rome to accompany the screening. The film promises to be a wild ride through the complex nuances of sexual consent and its consequences, particularly examining sexuality in the post #MeToo generation.

In her debut feature film “Excursion”, Serbian director Una Gunjak highlights the meaning of growing up as a woman in a stifling and conservative society, where sexual education is often self-taught.

Another highly anticipated film is “To Leslie,” the directorial debut of Michael Morris, which was a surprise addition to the 2023 Oscar race thanks to Andrea Riseborough‘s outstanding performance. Despite a limited budget and a production period of only 18 days, the film garnered support from celebrities like Kate Winslet, Demi Moore, and Susan Sarandon for Academy Award nominations.

Argentinian director María Zanetti presents “Alemania,” which tells the story of a teenager’s struggle for her right to a future and the difficulties in voicing her legitimate aspirations.

In the Panorama Italia section, Stefano Chiantini celebrates the lives, rebirths, and self-determination of women in his film “Una madre” featuring extraordinary performances by Aurora Giovinazzo, Micaela Ramazzotti, and Angela Finocchiaro.

Out of competition, the film “Superluna” tells the story of young Viola, who discovers the richness and sacredness of life in the tragedy of an earthquake.

Director Jessica Hausner continues to explore the pitfalls of contemporary society and the supposed elite in Club Zero addressing themes like nutrition and generational miscommunication. Her presence in Rome includes a public discussion and engagement with film school students, followed by a screening of her film.

The festival dedicates a series of meetings called WomenLands to Italian and international female excellence, in collaboration with Expo 2030. These meetings aim to highlight the new role of women in contemporary society and Rome’s sensitivity to rights and inclusion. At the end of the meetings, WomenLands Excellence Awards will be presented.

To kick off this series of events, actresses  Anna Foglietta and Alissa Jung will share their commitment to their respective organisations, Every Child is my Child Onlus and Pen Paper Peace. Additionally, cinema and style icon Nastassja Kinski will participate in a talk about her career and her connection to Italy.

First Feature Films

Una scena dal film Io e il Secco
Io e il secco

In total, there are 11 debut works scheduled, including 5 from Italy. Among them, “Io e il secco,” a coming-of-age tale directed by Gianluca Santoni, is a standout. Santoni is the sole Italian competitor in Alice nella Città. Other debut works include “Un oggi alla volta” by Nicola Conversa, “Clorofilla” by Ivana Gloria, and “Desiré” by Mario Vezza, all competing in the “Panorama Italia” section.

A common theme linking many of these debut works is “coming of age,” stories that delve into adolescence and the search for personal identity, emotional growth, or an escape from a family or otherwise oppressive reality. For example, the Argentinian film “Alemania” by Maria Zanetti addresses the theme of sisterhood and its implications within a family affected by mental disorders. In the “Panorama Italia – Proiezioni speciali” section, “The Cage” by Massimiliano Zanin takes place in the world of sports, showing how difficult it can be to break a strong familial bond even when “family” members are strangers. “Un oggi alla volta” by Nicola Conversa is a teen love drama that tells the incredible and surprising journey the protagonists embark on, all to achieve something seemingly simple but complicated today: falling in love.

Among the debut works, there is also the 4K restoration of the film “L’isola” by  Costanza Quatriglio, carried out by the Cinecittà laboratories. This film, premiered at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival’s Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, marked the beginning of a new generation of authors who, in recent years, have gained international recognition with cinema that tells reality with a strong visionary and poetic dimension.

Great Animation

Una scena di Il ragazzo e l'airone
Il ragazzo e l’airone

Alice nella Città, this year as well, stands out for its significant focus on high-quality animation. In celebration of DreamWorks’ twenty-fifth anniversary, the festival eagerly presents the premiere of “Trolls 3 – tutti insieme,” the highly anticipated new installment in the successful franchise produced by the company founded by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg. For this special occasion, two exceptional voices, Lodovica Comello and Stash, will grace the red carpet.

A precious work that will take center stage is the restoration of “Il cavaliere inesistente” by Pino Zac, a 1969 film that marked a pioneering moment in animation, skillfully combining live-action actors with animated characters using stop-motion techniques. This film is inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel of the same name, celebrated this year on the centenary of the author’s birth.

An extraordinary tribute to Leonardo da Vinci is presented in “The Inventor” by Jim Capobianco and Pierre-Luc Granjon. This work transforms the great artist and scientist into a clay hero using modern stop-motion techniques. Among the original voice cast is the French star Marion Cotillard.

The festival continues with a selection of auteur animations, including “Sirocco And The Kingdom Of Winds” by Benoît Chieux, previously nominated for a César in 2016 for his animated short film “Le Jardin de Minuit.” Additionally, Alice nella Città pays tribute to Simone Massi, one of the most acclaimed and innovative directors in contemporary animation, with screenings of his award-winning short films and a preview of his first animated feature film titled “Invelle”” which will be screened at the Auditorium della Conciliazione, followed by a discussion with the director.

Finally, one of the most anticipated premieres is “Il ragazzo e l’airone” by visionary Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, presented in co-production with the Rome Film Festival and already acclaimed as an animation masterpiece. This film promises to be one of the festival’s gems.

All About Shorts

Alice nella Città reaffirms its commitment to the world of short films with the exciting initiative called “Onde corte” (Short Waves). This section includes an international competition and one dedicated to Italian works, aiming to promote and celebrate talent in the field of short filmmaking. The selected short films will be screened from October 18 to 20 at the Auditorium della Conciliazione.

The jury tasked with selecting the best work consists of individuals with extensive experience and expertise in the industry: Tim Redford, known for his role in the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, director Giulia Steigerwaltt, and accomplished film producer Joy Monteiro.

But that’s not all: Alice nella Città further expands into the world of short films with the first edition of SHORT FILM DAYS. This networking and co-production space will take place at the prestigious Palazzo delle Esposizioni and adds to the traditional venues of the Auditorium Parco della Musica and the Auditorium Conciliazione.

Opening and Closing Films

A scene from One Life starring Anthony Hopkins
One Life

The festival will open with “How To Have Sex”, already a Cannes winner, a choice that reflects Alice nella Città‘s commitment to addressing important and current themes.

But it’s not just the opening that stands out in this edition. The closing film is also a tale of extraordinary courage. It’s a story that remained buried for years, hidden in a leather briefcase of a British stockbroker, a monumental feat based on actual events. “One Life” by James Hawes follows Nicholas Winton at two crucial moments in his life. As a young man, portrayed by Johnny Flynn, we see him in Prague in 1938, putting all his efforts into saving the lives of numerous children during the dramatic events of World War II. This mission is shared with a determined mother, played by Helena Bonham-Carter. As an elderly man, Nicholas, remarkably portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, finds himself in London, haunted by remorse for not having done enough.

The 21st edition of Alice nella Città promises to be once again a film festival that celebrates and supports cinema for young people, offering an engaging and interactive cinematic experience that goes beyond mere film viewing, promoting the connection between filmmakers and young audiences, and stimulating reflection on important themes for this age group.

Written by: Federica Scarpa



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