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Seeking a Brighter Future at New York Film Festival ‘21


By Roger Costa


Three of the most committed contemporary Italian filmmakers unify their forces and talents to achieve an important and definitive portrait of the homeland, a real, unique and timely report on its youth and what they expect for the days ahead. Directors Pietro Marcello (Martin Eden), Francesco Munzi (Black Souls), and Alice Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro) get exclusive access to the routine lives of several teens and young adults throughout the countryside and the small seaside villages, documenting their perspectives, dreams, fears, motivations and anxieties- all based on the fact that soon they will reach maturity and they lack hope, support and opportunities. The cameras go inside educational programs, where they witness the hidden talent of some of these kids in different areas, ranging from beauticians to athletes. With an intimate approach seen through their lenses filled with tenderness and empathy, the testimonies feel free and honest, as they display a peaceful, settled, yet horrifying account of their lives. They are talented and determined to reach success in the fields they’re being instructed, though it might fade away within the years, as most of them move on to other interests, due to the rules of human survival. Some are shy about it, some never wants to leave their humble, never-changing communities, while others dream bigger and simply face the harsh reality around them with optimism. Conceived before and during the Pandemic, it is a powerful portrait of this generation’s affairs and interests reflected on a country’s search for perspective. (A Grasshopper Film Release. Screens 9/26, 27.).


Already one of this year’s best discoveries, and a remarkable directorial debut, Panah Panahi’s dramatic comedy road-trip movie is a lively and absorbing observational tale about the untamed behavior of a dysfunctional family as they travel throughout the Iranian countryside. Son of the revered Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, the first time director demonstrates incredible control of the material, originality and inventiveness, crafting an unusually bitter-sweet comedy of family bond filled with life, poetry and spirit. Capturing the effects of unsolved matters from the past, the uncertainty of their future and the anxiety of being heard and understood, Panahi mirrors relevant topics of modern society thru his characters on the run: a middle-aged couple of parents and their children, a mysteriously quiet adult, and an energized 6-year-old boy who becomes the center of the story as a mediator from their troubles and uneasiness. Nominated for the Golden Camera Award at Cannes, it brings an astonishing cinematography and convincing performances from the cast, making it a luminous, semi-perfect masterpiece. (A Kino Lorber Release. Screens October 6, 7.).


The great and polemic Bruno Dumont is back to the contemporary world after travelling back in time to narrate his country’s history via Joan of Arc. In this unsettling and unpredictable satirical comedy about the fragility of fame and the consequences of power, star Lea Seydoux plays a mega-star reporter who runs a sensationalist nightly TV program engaged in exposing the horrors of interior wars with focus on her reactions. When she accidentally hits a young man, and becomes involved with his family, she descends into a personal crisis as she realizes the emptiness of her lifestyle, the loveless marriage and lack of time for her son, urgently seeking a safe, reliable valve of escape. Utterly funny and sarcastic, sensitive and perceptive, this Cannes-nominated thought-provoking tragicomedy puts Dumont under the radar again, as one of cinema’s most accomplished provocateurs. (A Kino Lorber Release. Screens October 3, 5.).

(The 59th New York Film Festival runs September 24th-October 10th at Film at Lincoln Center and other venues. Filmmakers and cast in attendance for most of the film screenings. Proof of vaccination and masks are required. Go to for tickets, details and schedule.)

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