In its long tradition of enquiring on the thriller genre, the festival has presented a complete panorama of Italian genre cinema from the 1940s to the 1970s; a fresh look at renowned masters such as Alfred Hitchcock, Pierre Chenal, Orson Welles, William Friedkin, Jules Dassin and Robert Wise; and new filmmakers such as Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Takashi Miike (in 1999 his first Western retrospective was in Courmayeur, at the festival), Sabu and Park Chan-wook.
Noir has also spotlighted renowned documentary filmmakers like Emile De Antonio and Fred Wiseman; films by literary giants such as Friedrick Durrenmatt, Joseph Conrad, Philip K. Dick; and masters of the genre that include Cornell Woolrich, Mickey Spillane, David Goodis, Jim Thompson, Edward Bunker and Scott Turow.
Film guests across the years have included: Paul Verhoeven, Dario Argento, Sergio Castellitto, Diablo Cody, Maria de Medeiros, Isabella Ferrari, Abbas Kiarostami, Val Kilmer, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Christopher Lee, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Laura Morante, Michele Placido, Amanda Plummer, Gillo Pontecorvo, Gabriele Salvatores, Jerzy Skolimowski, Bob Swaim, Filippo Timi, Charlize Theron, Johnnie To, Margarethe von Trotta, Peter Weller, Michael Winterbottom, Stephen Frears.
The many hits screened at the Noir in Festival include the television series Alias and Lost by J.J. Abrams, Chris Carter’s X Files and Fallen Angels by Sydney Pollack. As well as films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs; Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave; In the Mouth of Madness by John Carpenter; David Fincher’s Seven; Taylor Hackford’s The Devil’s Advocate; Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers; Alien IV starring Sigourney Weaver; Tony Scott’s Enemy Mine, with Will Smith; Sam Mendes’ American Beauty; Phillip Noyce’s The Bone Collector with Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington; Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead; M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson; Gore Verbinski’s The Ring; the Hong Kong trilogy Infernal Affairs, on which Scorsese based The Departed; David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence; The Chronicles of Narnia; Nick Cassavetes’ Alpha Dog; the Oscar-winning The Last King of Scotland; the returns of Tony Scott (Déjà Vu) and George Romero (Diary of the Dead); the Oscar-nominated Frozen River. In the last few years the festival premiered, among others: Vengeance by Johnnie To; Dario Argento’s Dracula in 3D; The Killer Inside Me by Michael Winterbottom; Margin Call starring Kevin Spacey; Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins.
For its Raymond Chandler Award, the festival has hosted and awarded the best names in the genre, including Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, P.D. James, John le Carré, John Grisham, Andrew Vacchs, Mickey Spillane, James Crumley, James Grady, Ian Rankin, George P. Pelecanos, Scott Turow, Alicia Giménez-Bartlett and recently Michael Connelly and Don Winslow. Literature at NoirFest is not just prizes. It features presentations of books, public debates with foreign and Italian writers and filmmakers, launch of editorial series and magazines. In all these years, the festival has also proudly hosted, among others, the writers: Robert Bloch, Mary Higgins Clark, Jean-Claude Izzo, Robin Cook, Giancarlo de Cataldo, Giorgio Faletti, Carlo Lucarelli, James Ellroy, Anne Perry, Walter Mosley, Michael Tolkin, Juan Madrid, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Joe Lansdale, Nicholas Evans, Raymond Benson, Kathy Reichs, Matthew Pearl, Harlan Coben, Jeffery Deaver, Jean-Christophe Grangé, Jason Goodwin, Amitav Gosh, Jean-Cristophe Grangé, James W. Hall, Michael Marshall Smith, James Sallis, Richard Price and Patrick Raynal.