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Tribute to Marco Bellocchio
Marco Bellocchio's 50-year career places him among the most influential Italian filmmakers alongside Bernardo Bertolucci and the director's personal friend, Pier Paolo Pasolini, with whom he shared radically leftist zeal, fight against conservative censorship and a provocative approach to delicate topics and film form (Bellocchio also played a minor role in Pasolini's shocking Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom). Two out of the three films included in Febiofest's tribute were made exactly fifty years apart: Bellocchio's full-length debut, Fists in the Pocket (1965), which evoked shocked and disapproving reactions in conservative circles as well as that of older, established directors, enthusiasm of critics, and earned the then-twenty-six-year-old Bellocchio victory at the Locarno IFF, and his latest film, Blood of My Blood (2015), which won the FIPRESCI award during its premiere in the main competition at Venice IFF (four years after Bellocchio received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement there). The arc that these films create is, despite their formal differences, thematic in relation to the repressive structures anchored in the Catholic tradition and to the possibilities of freedom, and symbolic regarding Bellocchio's personal “return” - he made his debut in his mother's house nearby his native town of Bobbio, and Blood of My Blood uses Bobbio not only as the location, but also the key protagonist of the two parallel stories set in two timelines, today and in the 17th century. The film also boasts a cast of not only Alba Rohrwacher and Roberto Herlitzka, but also Bellocchio's son, daughter, and brother. The director's strict Catholic upbringing is the centre of the angry rebellion with chilling, yet grotesquely tragic consequences carried out by young Alessandro, the (anti)hero of Fists in the Pocket. Critic Paolo Mereghetti described the film's impact as follows: “When it came out, it ripped the collective film imagination to shreds.” According to film historians, the film, whose subversive energy and darkly psychological, apt study of a deranged protest against the stifling structure of a “proper family” with the ironically addressed matricide and incest hasn't lost any of its provocative urgency, prophetically foretold student protest in late 1960s. The uncompromisingly cheeky, iconoclastic and cinematically exceptionally mature picture with its compact atmosphere, poignant acting and refined use of succinct film language represents a breakthrough in Italian cinema, foreshadowing the international acclaim and controversies that Bellocchio's films always provoke with their topics and the director's always ambiguously inquisitive viewpoints. Political issues, structures of power and ideology in relation to madness surface in his films repeatedly, being it the adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's Henry IV (1984) based on a script by Tonino Guerra and starring Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinal, Vincere (2009) about the wife of Benito Mussolini, or the examination of the infamous Italian Red Brigades. A Maoist terrorist is the ironically comical hero of satirical China Is Near. A serious approach can be found in the study of the most notorious attack that rattled Italy, the television documentary Sogni infranti about the kidnapping of the politician Aldo Moro. His 55-day-long imprisonment by a Red Brigade cell is depicted by one of Bellocchio's most acclaimed films, Good Morning, Night (2003), which is the third of his films in our tribute. Its main protagonist, Chiara, is a young woman convinced of the rightfulness of her fight, yet her blind ideological fury crumbles face to face with the consequences of her decision. The tense thriller symptomatically blends fiction with archival materials, accompanied by opera as well as Pink Floyd, because the poignant reality of today's world permeates Bellocchio's cinematic imagination in a piercing symbiosis.
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