Is the Fiuggi Family Festival still an occasion?

Is the Fiuggi Family Festival still an occasion?

Commentary and sensations of a three-day story inside the heart of a cultural event.

There are numerous ways in which we can talk about the family. It can be done through a song or even a book (for example, through an essay or a novel). Those creatively-minded may think of a painting exhibition or even a photographic exhibition to show ordinary and not so ordinary events of daily life. Even TV commercials, together with TV programmes can portray in someway the development, the changes and preferences in the family albeit in an idealistic and standardised form, distorted by commercial logics, they could not be further from reality. Yet, the most effective of them all is the cinema for its spontaneity, its truth and expressive force that it has. The cinema has an infinite magic and an ability to involve the spectator like nothing else.

When a film is made well, it is not only the most poetic and the most (emotionally) engaging way of recounting the complex relationships in the family: its vicissitudes, its difficulties and the feelings that parents and children have but at times it is also there to tell dramatic events or stories. This was the file rouge which accompanied the viewing of all the films presented at The Sixth Edition of the Fiuggi Family Festival which took place on 21st-28th July this year.

There were many first-rate films presented but the winner of the Festival was Touch of the Light, a moving film based on a true story of a blind pianist called Yuang Yu-Siang (who plays himself in the film). He was born blind but in his adolescence he decides to leave his family to study pianoforte at the Conservatory. There he meets Jie, an attractive girl, dissatisfied with working at a drinks kiosk because she has dreams of becoming a professional dancer. When Jie and Yu-Siang become friends, Yu-Siang inspires and drives Jie to follow her dreams of becoming a professional dancer, through his proud resolution, optimism and inner peace.

The second place went to the Iranian film The Pearl. It is a story with a happy ending of a boy and his little sister who go in search of a precious black pearl to pay for their father’s heart operation.

One of the films which was not in the competition and was a box-office hit last winter was “White as milk, red as blood” (see our review ) which was a great success with adults and adolescents in particular. It was presented at the Festival even though it was not on its first release. Other interesting films were The Child of Another by Lorraine Lèvy, Unexpected Love by Anne Giafferì, The Sun Inside by Paolo Bianchini and The Life of Pi by Ang Lee.

The President of the Festival, Antonella Bevere has taken on the difficult and complicated task left behind by her late husband, Gianni Astrei, founder and creator of the Festival who died prematurely in a mountain accident. Today, Antonella Bevere in spite of immense difficulties, lack of resources and public funding, has showed great tenacity, passion and love together. There are also members of her family, numerous volunteers and professionals who in their farsightedness have seen the importance of a project like this.

This year’s edition presented a range of high quality films which gave the starting point for important reflections (but not the run-of-the-mill topics!) concerning the family and its problems. Not only this, it was an opportunity to discuss new horizons and prospects for the future. The Festival raised enthusiasm amongst the organisers and volunteers whose commitment and professionalism throughout the event made the Festival so special. I feel though I should put forward some observations and suggestions made by the visitors in the conviction that the Festival will only benefit from a sincere and constructive collaboration:

  • The hope that one day there will public funding for this event since other, similar Italian events receive lavish benefits and at times obtained with little merit. Such funding would help to give more visibility to this event on a national and international level (not just for promotional reasons) but also a chance to offer new initiatives, activities and guests;
  • More involvement of the Family Associations Forum is necessary and a greater mobilization of families. Not just in a representative sense but through a real and practical demonstration to show that the family in Italy is still alive and present in today’s world, ready to give testimony to itself even on occasions of meetings and entertainment like this;
  • A whole week in difficult times like this could be somewhat excessive. It is impossible for everyone (visitors and professionals included) to follow everything. It would be better to do it on a long weekend, or over four days at the very most to concentrate and optimize the activities in general so that there are no “empty” days or ones with less interest;
  • Concentrate all the attention on the film review is somewhat limiting. True, the cinema is the best instrument to talk about the family, the most poetic and the most genuine. But one cannot leave aside the other means of communication (television, the press, the radio, internet…), and the new technologies which are characterising and changing today’s society- family included- social networks, videogames,…is perhaps a mistake. It might be a good idea to keep open debates on these new phenomena (like in past editions) and give them the space necessary to allow families to go into more depth on certain issues, through questions, expressing doubts, putting forward new proposals and solutions;
  • Lastly, is the feedback from the young. They would like collateral activities (for example, five-a-side tournaments, creative writing or poetry workshops) to involve more young boys and girls accompanied by their parents. In this way, it would create a greater participation and interest on their part and would avoid moments of boredom and disinterest.

I am aware of the great organisational difficulties and efforts, which a national festival of this kind brings. But it is simply because I believe in the importance of something like the Fiuggi Film Festival and believe in how much good it can do to construct real and positive projects for the family that I think it does not do any good to hide behind falsities – if anything it could be harmful by giving testimony that everything is perfect. It is a challenge to be faced but I am sure it will be accepted, for the good of the Fiuggi Family Festival and for all the family.