The 55th edition of the Firenze based documentary Festival dei Popoli is running now – until December 5. A rich programme and it’s all very professionally presented on the website. And I liked the welcoming words of the festival director, so I made a copy-paste – his name is Alberto Lastrucci, who brings a modest, unpretentious text:
Humankind needs stories. It needs them to learn as well as recognize itself. To acquire information, nourish its inexhaustible curiosity, and respond to its innate instinct to share, to participate, and to hand down experiences, opinions, and fantasies to others. And, is there a better generator of stories than Reality?
Reality produces situations, incidents, and events with an incredible fecundity: it is a tight web of lives, thoughts, actions, and passions. ‘Film-makers of the real’ are deeply aware of this because they are its keenest observers. They explore it, they scan it, they investigate it, and then pick those thin threads that will wind into a story. The vicissitudes of certain individuals at a given time and in a faraway place take shape and become a narrative: a new story to tell. Thus, that event takes off and starts a journey to go and strike the imagination, fantasy, and heart of thousands of people. It becomes universal.
I have met people, in different contexts, who, when I tell them my job, say they watched a film presented at the festival “a few years ago”. They often recall neither its title nor the name of the author. But they can recall the story and its protagonists precisely. The story must have stayed with them, rooted in their minds. It nourished their imagination. They bring the story along, possibly for many years. That story is ready to resurface when some aspect of existence stirs memory for some mysterious assonance. When people tell me this, I am always moved, especially when I recognize the story (and yes, I do recall the film’s title and the author’s name too). I remember the stage of selection, and how that film had impressed me. When I told this to colleagues, the enthusiasm pervading all of us when we agreed that it was a beautiful story and really deserved to be shown was matched by our hope that the audience would appreciate and love it as much as we did.
Our job also offers this kind of ‘long-term’ satisfaction: we find that, after years, a story is fixated in the memory of our viewers. This is one of the reasons why organizing this festival is worthwhile. Never mind that the funds are never enough, that you always work in a state of uncertainty, that not all projects succeed, that we would always need a few more days, whereas there’s no time left because the Festival dei Popoli begins… tomorrow.
Well, we are now presenting the 55th edition of the International Documentary Film Festival. It certainly is an important goal, considering that very few film festivals can boast such longevity. By virtue of this experience, Festival dei Popoli invites you once again to know new films, meet new film directors, and take part in meetings, exchanges, and reflections.
I wish for you all, that the films you see this year will keep you company for a long time.