The Night Is Young for Noir
by Marina Fabbri and Giorgio Gosetti

Ever since it started, this festival has been unique in its ability to celebrate film and literature on an equal footing, linked by a single overriding theme. To the core focus of this endeavor, teeming with all the emotions, atmospheres, styles and art forms called noir, we have, over time, added necessary forays into history, crime news, the graphic novel, and new media; and into the territory of the horror genre and childhood fears; spy stories, science fiction, gothic tales, and even westerns. Yet the guiding principle has remained the same: to examine the individual’s unconscious as well as society’s malaise to pinpoint the reasons for the unsettling pull of the collective fear that characterized the last century and, even more elusive, even more urgent, still grips this one.

There is no denying that the social issues and economic challenges of the times we live in have had an effect on some of our plans for the program of our 29th Noir in Festival. Yet Como’s splendid neo-classical venue, Villa Olmo, is the perfect setting for our event in its more recent guise on the lakeshore, a tradition that sparkles all the more thanks to the city’s fairytale makeover for the holidays, which turns it into an unforgettable fantasyland in early December, courtesy of the Friends of Como and the support of the city council. And in Milan, our partnership with IULM University continues, its campus offering a vibrant, fruitful exchange between young filmgoers and an international film festival, while the Feltrinelli Bookshop in Piazza Duomo, as it does every year, will host Noir’s talks with well-known, hotly-awaited authors.

This year’s program picks up on four trends we feel are worthy of mention. On one hand, and this has become a given, the powerful synergy between genre novelists and film production. As the case of Donato Carrisi shows: his career is on a twin track by now; he’s a storyteller in words and images. Maurizio De Giovanni, Giancarlo De Cataldo, and Gianrico Carofiglio are all prolific "whisperers" of stories for the big and small screens, and non-Italian talent is obviously in abundance as well, such as Håkan Nesser, rising star of the Swedish noir, bringing his Intrigo trilogy to our festival, or our Chandler award-winner, Jonathan Lethem, a connoisseur of film classics who loads his stories with visual echoes from within the noir tradition and beyond. On the other hand, the cinematic "new wave" that many Latin American countries are riding today, with a remarkable three films in our international competition coming from Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, their original takes on the film noir prompting us to rethink our conception of the genre. This new wave is resonating on the literary front as well, as seen at Noir 2019 in the metaphysical noir exploit by a well-known and well-rounded writer like Antonio Moresco.

Alongside these first two ingredients of the 2019 Noir lineup, there’s the festival’s weakness for major cinematic milestones like Batman’s eightieth anniversary (which inspired our poster this year), or the seventieth of a film classic such as The Third Man by Carol Reed, which has spawned legends and anecdotes about its genesis for decades, and now brings to life a post-war Europe that is contemporary to an unsettling degree. The last trend, thanks to the Caligari Award created by IULM and Noir, is the festival’s focus on Italian thrillers in their latest incarnations. This makes the festival the place for young audiences to discover or rediscover the best films of the year, considering that the former are all too often overlooked by our film industry, whereas while Noir is in Milan, they can get hooked on a top-notch competition, mirrored by the Scerbanenco Award for Italian noir fiction. Apropos of the guardian angel of Italian mystery stories, Noir honors the fiftieth anniversary of the author’s death with a conference co-arranged with students enrolled in IULM’s Master’s in Journalism program and dedicated to Scerbanenco’s work in that field.

This year, the figure who represents our idea of a kind of cinema that uses genre to speak a contemporary language through which civic engagement once again links up with our historical heritage is master filmmaker Marco Bellocchio, to whom Noir pays tribute the year his The Traitor came out, the same year in which IULM University is awarding him an honorary degree.

In and around all of the above, the festival offers up its usual slate of authors and directors, stories and film premieres that attest to the uniqueness of the formula dreamed up twenty-nine years ago now, and given new life every year through the creativity of all those who "think noir", at all latitudes.

This year, we are grateful as never before to all those who have supported the festival and worked with us: our collaborators and partners, government institutions, producers and distributors, publishers, volunteers, and friends of Noir one and all. We owe our success to them, first and foremost. From now on, that success is in the hands of our young audiences.

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