The new edition of Noir in Festival is finally taking place in person, after the online 2020 edition. It features seven films in competition, the Manetti Bros.’ Diabolik as the closing film, the Caligari Prize, the Conversations and their presentations of the latest book releases, the Raymond Chandler Award, and other events and dialogues, all tinged with noir.

The upcoming edition of Noir in Festival, number 31, will unspool in Milan on December 10th -15th, in person at long last, after the 2020 edition held online. Directed by Giorgio Gosetti, Marina Fabbri and Gianni Canova (IULM delegate), the festival reclaims the movie theater (the cinema Gloria, courtesy of Notorious Cinemas) reiterates its commitment to education and discovery (using the IULM campus at its headquarters), and treats festgoers to a prestigious stage venue like Milan’s Teatro Filodrammatici for its literary talks, also to be held at the Rizzoli Bookshop in the Galleria. Lastly, with the support of Mompracem, Rai Cinema, 01 Distribution, and the passion of the Manetti Bros., it’s putting on an astounding, hotly anticipated, and “diabolical” closing film at the cinema Odeon.

What kind of festival will it be? Certainly one that looks ‘new’ward, as attested by its decision to bestow the Raymond Chandler Award, a veritable “Nobel Prize” for genre fiction, on an author such as Guillaume Musso, born in the 1970s and already an global literary star. Accordingly, it also places its bets on new entries in the film industry as well – titles that will get people talking, some of them outright revelations. On the thematic front this year, Noir zooms in on the great revival of the French “polar”, on the one hand, with A-list guests such as Hervé Le Corre and Franck Thilliez, while, on the other, it takes the genre to little-known and even less explored territories like the Dark Web, for a profusion of technological sophistication and new criminal prowess. Of course, there will also be “safe bets” like the past masters of Italian crime fiction and noir novels, of the caliber of doyen Loriano Macchiavelli, Carlo Lucarelli, Donato Carrisi, Maurizio De Giovanni, and Simona Vinci. Still, expectations are running high for the shortlisted authors vying for the Giorgio Scerbanenco Award, from the original voices of Lisa Jewell and Mariolina Venezia to literary newcomers Stefano Vicario and Alex Michailides.

The same reasoning informs our film showcase, which spotlights a surprise flowering of talent (it has never been harder to select the six finalists for the Caligari Prize); is proud to offer a homage to an outsider by definition such as Antonio Capuano; and celebrates its champion of champions, Dario Argento, currently in his second youth of creativity. Lastly, with Diabolik by Marco and Antonio Manetti, our film lineup extends to what seems to us a cross between the unique anti-hero created by the Giussani sisters in the early 1960s (described by Chiara Tagliaferri in her podcast now online, “Les diaboliques”, which Noir 2021 will be discussing) and a supremely personal contemporary aesthetic such as that of the now legendary Manetti Bros.

This year, as never before, cinema and literature are fused on our program. The cross-pollination is clearly seen in Massimo Donati’s directorial debut, in competition, with Diario di spezie, based on his own novel, or Donato Carrisi, at Noir to present his latest book while filming of Io sono l’abisso is underway. Denis Dercourt (Vanishing), Lucile Hadzihalilovic (Earwig) and Fabrice Du Weltz (Inexorable), all share alchemies between book and film, while Carlo Lucarelli, Maurizio De Giovanni, Mariolina Venezia, Alex Michailides, and Guillaume Musso himself are no strangers to film and TV adaptations of their novels.

Rounding out our novel offerings, which we’ll be hearing much more of in the coming months, two of our films will be representing their countries at the Oscars® (The Innocents and Drunken Birds); we have a Golden Leopard in competition (Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash), a British revelation of 2021 (Prano Bailey-Bond, with Censor), and a Venice Film Festival winner (Finland’s Teemu Nikki, with Nimby). But the preview would hardly be complete without a truly unique film, the visionary documentary Vesuvio by Giovanni Troilo, which casts the shadow of catastrophe over one of the most evocative and unsettling locations in Italy, on the slopes of the volcano.

This fusion between past and future is on display in the poster for Noir this year, designed by that subversive, versatile talent, Marco Galli, winner of the top award at the past edition of Lucca Comics & Games: the Yellow Kid.

“The poster for 2021,” says Marina Fabbri, shows a modern-day investigator whose equipment is mostly technological, de rigueur for exploring the new frontiers of crime, which unfortunately happen to be our own new reality, VR. It’s a parallel universe drawing us all in, deeper and deeper, as it fatally detaches us from the reality made up of men and women in flesh and blood. This is clearly a repercussion of the long lockdown in the wake of the pandemic, which affected the entire world. Yet while the immobility caused by the virus prompts us to explore parallel realities, on the one hand, there is still another reality that needs to be investigated, much closer to us, more introspective: our deeper reality, that of our unconscious. One master of this type of investigation is undoubtedly Guillaume Musso, the bestselling French author all over the world, whom Noir is honoring this year with its lifetime achievement award named after Raymond Chandler. We hope it will encourage Musso to go further down the road that has won him such universal acclaim.”

Nevertheless, Noir also honors the roots of the genre and its contribution to the great tradition of storytelling on the page and screen, and does so with a tribute to Graham Greene and John le Carré in the form of a masterclass devoted to the guardian angels of the Raymond Chandler Award. Lastly, the hall of fame of this edition’s remarkable guests gets a fresh look in the clips crafted by the Istituto Luce archives, which also provide a bridge between the past and future of the Italian noir.

Mindful of the astonishing success of Noir’s “virtual” edition in March, for its 30th anniversary, Noir in Festival will also double up online this time around, live- streaming its leading events, thanks to a collaboration with MYmovies – a way to share the festival’s novelties with audiences all around Italy. Two of Noir’s prestigious guests, authors Laura Lippman and Richard Greene, are also joining us remotely.

“To sum up, this 31st edition,” declares Giorgio Gosetti, “sets its sights on the future while preserving an awareness of tradition, and this serves up a cocktail that has always been the hallmark of a festival that is truly unique on the world scene. For six days, Milan becomes the capital of noir, with all the colors that entails. We are only sorry that our traditional alternate venue on the shores of Lake Como was not to be this year, but we are grateful to the Friends of Como Association for its ongoing support, as well as that of our historic partners (the MIC’s Directorate of Cinema and Audiovisual, IULM University, Cinecittà) and our new supporters (Notorious Cinemas, the Teatro Filodrammatici, La Milanesiana). They have all enabled us to perform a genuine miracle, one that combines culture and entertainment, scouting and in-depth analysis, once more in 2021, during which Noir holds up a mirror to all the contradictions of society as we know it – and the society to come.”