Focus on Italy @ exground filmfest 33: Precarious Working Conditions and the Female (Film) Perspective

Co-operations with Terza Visione, Verso Sud & Kinothek Asta Nielsen // Video Art & Reading // Lecture on the Situation of Refugees in the Mediterranean Region

With a selection of contemporary short and feature-length films and classic works, this year’s edition of exground filmfest (13–22 November 2020) features a multi-faceted Focus programme devoted to Italian cinema. Many of the works included here deal with precarious working conditions. In co-operations with regional festivals Terza Visione and Verso Sud, as well as with Kinothek Asta Nielsen, the festival will screen Italian film classics, including CAMORRA by Southern Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmüller. In the Focus supporting programme, a video art exhibition with work from Clemens von Wedemeyer at Nassauischer Kunstverein, a lecture on the situation of refugees in the Mediterranean region as well as a poster exhibition focussing on Italian genre cinema offer further insight into both cultural and political events in Italy and the country’s cinema history. In what has become a tradition, some of the Focus programme films will also be shown in the scope of an after-festival programme in Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt. Under the title “exground Goes Verso Sud”, the festival is presenting a film from the Focus programme on 8 December at the cinema of DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum. The Country Focus on Italy is made possible with the generous support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain.


Thematic Focus: Work Worlds

In the Focus on Italy programme, diverse films draw their subject matter from the world of work. In the documentary film THERE IS A WOLF IN THE PARK OF THE KING (2019), Virginia Nardelli depicts the daily and nightly goings-on in Favorita Park on the outskirts of Palermo, where among other things sex workers trade anecdotes while waiting for customers. Luca Ferri on the other hand has chosen to approach the everyday work world of trans prostitute Bianca through the lens of a humorous chamber piece in THE HOUSE OF LOVE (2020), which is being shown as a double feature with THERE IS A WOLF IN THE PARK OF THE KING.

A child labourer and a refugee are at the centre of Michele Pennetta’s intimate study IL MIO CORPO (Switzerland/Italy, 2020). In the documentary film THE YOUNG OBSERVANT by Davide Maldi, a group of young trainees at a hotel have trouble constantly maintaining the strict etiquette and precision their future profession demands.

exground Co-operations: Terza Visione, Verso Sud, Kinothek Asta Nielsen

For its 33rd edition, exground filmfest is also co-operating with several festivals from the Rhine-Main region. Terza Visione – Festival of Italian Genre Cinema, which was unable to take place this year, will be presenting THE MASTER TOUCH (Italy/Germany, 1972) by Michele Lupo. Set in Hamburg, this wonderful Italian crime film wins the viewer over with its technical precision, melancholy grandeur, nuanced characterisation and a spectacular car chase through Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, fish market and port district.

Together with Kinothek Asta Nielsen, Frankfurt-based Verso Sud – Festival of Italian Cinema is showing an analogue copy from their planned homage to Southern Italian female filmmakers: Lina Wertmüller’s CAMORRA (Italy, 1985), an equally clever and entertaining farce about male vanity, combative females and a Naples that refuses to be kept down. exground filmfest will be returning the favour on 8 December with a guest screening of FAITH (Italy, 2019) by Valentina Pedicini at Verso Sud in the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum cinema. This intense documentary work follows a small sect of Christian martial arts fighters that lives in isolation while training for Judgement Day.

Short Films in the Focus Programme: LEAVING THINGS BEHIND

In the short film programme, four contemporary works deal with leaving things behind: spaces and people, life phases and thought patterns. In UNFOLDED, director Cristina Picchi asks when it is finally time to leave when an intimate partner violates one’s boundaries. In INDIMENTICABILE, Gianluca Santoni examines how sexual intimacy can be experienced when one’s body doesn’t correspond to social norms regarding physical appearance.

Supporting Events for Country Focus on Italy

Complementing the co-operation with genre film festival Terza Visione nicely, the exhibition VAMPIRES, FISTS, RED SUNS  – POSTER ART FOR ITALIAN GENRE CINEMA presents a selection of Italian film posters from DFF’s poster archive, graphic works which mine exotic tropes while harbouring a surprising wealth of detail, zeitgeist, wit and fantastic flourishes.

Nassauischer Kunstverein will be showcasing the video work PROCESSION by Clemens von Wedemeyer, a piece that takes a look at protests by film extras that erupted on the scene of the Hollywood production BEN HUR in 1958 inside Rome’s Cinecittà, which was founded by none other than Benito Mussolini.

In the scope of the “QUATTRO LIBRI” reading, Eva-Maria Damasko and Markus Schippers will undertake a literary journey to Italy via four books selected by the bookstore Vaternahm.

The lectureTHE MEDITERRANEAN, THE WORLD’S DEADLIEST MARITIME BORDER”, a co-operation with Amnesty International, is devoted to a serious subject: Dominik Meyer, project specialist in the European division of Pro Asyl, will offer insight into the intake situation for refugees in Italy and Malta and detail the dramatic situation in the Mediterranean region.

In the panel “Where Are We Headed?”, protagonists from Italy’s young film scene will discuss independence in the film production process, development of material and marketing possibilities in a cinema landscape that is increasingly characterised by uniform thought and working patterns.

The full programme for exground filmfest 33 will be announced on 22 October.


exground filmfest would like to thank all its sponsors and supporters.