– Interview with the director of the oldest international film festival dedicated to mountains, adventure and exploration, which has just completed its 70th edition
Celebrating 70 yearsand edition with a multitude of events and screenings, the Trento Film Festivalthe oldest international film festival dedicated to mountains, adventure and exploration, has seen Nicholas Molinait is American Gaucho win the Golden Gentian for Best Film. The Jury Prize was awarded to Lassu by Bartolomeo Pampaloniwhile the event was kicked off with a screening of the restored film Italy K2 by Marcello Baldifrom 1954. The complete list of winners can be found here. We spoke to the festival director, Luana Bisesti.
Cineeuropa: What exactly has changed here over the past few years? Are there more movies or more special events?
Luana Bisesti: Everything has changed, somehow. We are so open to young people, students and families. Our audience is much younger now. In the last ten or twelve years, we have started to be more interdisciplinary. Also, when you say “mountain”, people have this triangular shape in mind, but our interest is broader than that. We speak more and more often of “highlands” because it explains a little better what we are trying to do. We care about anything above sea level. Or even below, in fact – after all, you can also find mountains under the sea. [laughs].
Was it crucial that this festival – which is after all very special – open up a little more?
When I took office, this change was already underway. From a niche festival aimed at a very specific group of people, particularly those interested in mountaineering and exploring, there has been this shift towards a wider audience. If you stay too closed, you’ll lose something along the way – including viewers.
For a very long time, this event was the only chance for these people to see their idols, all these incredible personalities. There was no TV, no internet, so they came here to see Ricardo Cassino, Walter Bonatti, all those greats of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, bringing recordings of their travels. Today, thanks to technology, we can almost climb alongside them if we want to.
It’s hard to explain the appeal of the mountains to someone who doesn’t like them. It seems like everything of these Good-well-known mountaineers, such as Reinhold Messner, also come here for the community.
There is this saying, Nemo Propheta in Patria [no man is a prophet in his own land]. This event is probably better known abroad than in Italy, and it has never been difficult to involve these personalities. Especially because there is already this brand and this tradition. I understand that for so-called “normal people”, it is sometimes difficult to understand their motivations. Why would anyone risk their own life and the lives of others? Especially if it’s a woman with a family, for example. But these climbers keep telling us, “Family is important, but we feel complete when we reach this peak or reach another goal. I have listened to these testimonies for so many years, and even today, I do not understand what drives them. It is this fire that they have in them. Either you have it or you don’t.
Do you share this affection?
I really prefer the sea! It’s funny because I was driving with my son today, and he asked me: “Mom, but was this festival already so well known when you started working on it? Did you always know you were going to do this? So now it looks like you’re asking me the exact same thing.
I used to work in Milan, at university, then I came back for personal reasons – I wanted to take care of my grandmother. One day I ran into someone I knew and heard that the “Festival de la Montagne”, as it was called at the time, was looking for someone. I have always liked the organizational side of events; I have that ability, I guess. But you also develop a passion for what you do.
The films you present here are quite varied – you have mountaineering documentaries but also art house films.
As I said before, this festival aims to satisfy a varied audience. There will be family and monumental documentaries, but also niche titles, which are particular and not really easy to watch – the kind that our head of programming, Sergio Fant, appreciate the most. The idea, also that of the program, is never to give answers. This is perhaps also the mission of the festival. It has to educate, and there are many levels to that, just like with literature. Some only read novels, which is perfectly fine, while others prefer philosophy. You try to cater to all these different curiosities, also because in a small town like ours it is one of the rare occasions when you can see some of these titles.
Many years ago, at the festival, you would see all these people dressed as if they were about to go on a hike. I saw them this year too, and I guess that’s how you show you’re part of this group. But our festival no longer belongs to a single tribe.