At this year's 28th Med Film Festival, which will take place from the 3rd to the 13th of November in Rome, there are stunning gems features. Films like Syrian helmer Soudade Kaadan's Nezouh, which is one of our favorites of the year, as well as Algeria's La dernière reine (The Last Queen) by Adila Bendimerad e Damien Ounouri and Tunisian filmmaker Erige Sehiri's Under The Fig Trees.
The festival kicks off with The Blue Caftan by Maryam Touzani which is this year's Moroccan entry to the International Feature Film Oscar race. The opening night will also see lead actress Lubna Azabal receive a special prize for her career, which includes films shot with Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus), and Hany Abu Assad (Paradise Now) along with her TV work in miniseries like the British spy thriller The Honourable Woman in 2014.
But there is another reason to rejoice for filmmakers, as Paolo Bertolin, best known as a programmer at the Venice International Film Festival, as well as a member of the selection committee of Cannes' Directors' Fortnight -- and formerly an Artistic Consultant at Locarno's Open Doors Initiative -- is in charge of curating the inaugural MedPitching part of MedMeetings, the latter being the only Italian platform dedicated to the Euro-Mediterranean area. This includes Turkey and the MENA region, along with all the European countries which are touched the Mediterranean Sea.
Bertolin has worked for several international film festivals and film institutions, including IFFRotterdam, the Doha Film Institute, Annecy Cinéma Italien, Cannes' Semaine de la Critique, Nyon Visions du Réel, Mumbai IFF, Beijing IFF, IFFBratislava, Hanoi IFF.
As a film critic and journalist, he has contributed feature articles, reviews and interviews with filmmakers to several Italian and international publications, including Il manifesto, Cineforum, Segnocinema, MyMovies.it, Ciak, Cahiers du cinéma, Positif and Senses of Cinema. He also has production credits on a string of Asian films, including Phan Dang Di’s Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories (Vietnam, 2015), Lav Diaz’s A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery (Philippines, 2016), Amit Dutta’s short film Chitrashala (India, 2015), all entries in the Berlinale Competition, Vorakorn Ruetaivanichkul's Mother (Thailand, 2012) and Rahi Anil Barve's Tumbbad (India, 2018).
At this year's MedPitching there will be nine projects featured and they include Hear the Yellow, by Banu Sivaci from Turkey; I'm Here but You Can't See Me, a Spanish/Lebanese co-production directed by Feyrouz Serhal; The Pigeon Tower by Amal Ramsis from Egypt; and Tunis-Djerba by Amel Guellaty from Tunisia.
Also within the MedMeetings will be the MedWIP or MedFilm Works-in-progress, curated by Azza Chaabouni. The projects picked will vie for a couple of cash prizes and the six films in post-production will be evaluated by a jury of experts comprised of the Doha Film Institute's Khalil Benkirane, film editor Gladys Joujou and Cédric Succivalli from Giornate degli Autori in Venice. The films include Bassam Mortada's Abou Zaabal Prison from Egypt, Dormitory by Nehir Tuna from Turkey and Lofti Achour's French/Tunisian co-production Red Path.
Paolo Bertolin is a name to be reckoned with in cinema, both as a programmer and producer, as well as a film writer and journalist. About this upcoming edition of the Med Film Festival, he wrote: "It is time for Italy to discover the Mediterranean. And it is time for the Mediterranean to discover Italy. The historical, economical, political and cultural connections that link the peninsula located at the center of this sea enclosed by land - yet always open to the world - with all its shores, from North to South, from West to East, are a shared heritage of immense value. This common heritage lays down the foundations of new and renewed collaborations in a constantly evolving cinematographic field, especially in the face of the challenges and complexities that arose in the last two years."
Bertolin added: "The new tools made available to Italian producers through the calls for minority co-production have led to a push for renewal and to a vital opening of the national production landscape. The drive towards collaboration with new partners and the search for relevant stories and talents to support is perceived as a renewed urgency to trust the power of the cinematic language and of the big screen." Adding, "and it is precisely for this reason that the MedFilm Festival, on the occasion of its 28th edition, has decided to broaden the range of the professional proposals of MedMeetings with the launch of MedPitching, a co-production platform intended to connect Italian producers interested in minority co-production with projects in development from the whole Euro-Mediterranean region, potentially interested in working with Italy. Through a careful selection of projects, the MedPitching platform aims to build new bridges that connect the Italian industry with all its sisters of the Mediterranean basin - and vice versa. A mission of both economic and cultural nature that we will try to carry out with enthusiasm and scrupulousness also in the years to come."
For all information and to view the complete program, check out the Med Film Festival website.