Film Scouts Diaries

2002 Taormina BNL FilmFest Diaries
Cosa Mostra: Day 8

by Philipp Hoschka

Taormina, July 13, 2002 - Today, the Festival shows a retrospective of three Warhol movies from the late 60s and early 70s directed by Paul Morrissey and starring Joe Dallesandro - "Flesh", "Trash" and "Heat". These are true "no budget" movies - "Flesh" cost $1500 to make, and the entire technical crew consisted of one person, who was a janitor in his day job. In these movies, some of Warhol's "superstars" play essentially themselves, improvising what seem to be scenes from their non-bourgeouis life. In contrast to most other Warhol films, these movies have close to a real story, which makes watching them actually interesting rather than just fulfilling a cultural duty. Beware of the sound, however - nearly every cut in "Flesh" is accompanied by a loud "crack" coming from the loudspeakers. Nevertheless, Morrissey was apparently able to buy two houses from the money he earned with these movies - "Flesh" was one of the top five moneymakers in Germany in 1970, which probably makes it the "Blair Witch Project" of les annees pop.

The last Greek-theatre screening of the Festival is a French movie called Sur le Bout des Doigt directed by Yves Angelo. The Festival's audience jury awarded it with the "best movie" prize. The film is about a mother-daughter relation gone wrong. Both mother and daughter play piano, but where the mother (Juliette) is simply a piano teacher with average skills, her daughter (Julie) is an actual virtuoso. While Juliette recognizes her daughter's talent, she is deeply jealous as well, having herself dreamt all her life of a career as a pianist. She even goes so far to try to pass her daughter's genius as her own to the outside world. Slowly, Juliette looses control of herself. As you can imagine, this movie won't lead you to outbursts of laughter, but it is very well done and constructed.

Moving on to lighter topics - the closing dinner. It started at midnight, and was held at the swimming pool of the Excelsior Palace Hotel, with a grandiose view of the lights along the coast, mirrored in the bay in front of Taormina - the setting certainly compared very favorably with pool party settings at the Cannes Film Festival such as the Majestic pool, or the pool of the Eden Roc. The buffet dinner was copious and good, so was the wine, and quickly everybody became the friend of everybody else.

Overall, Taormina certainly has all the ingredients that can make a festival great - glamorous hotels, great food, a "screening room" that is hard to beat in originality and beauty (the Greek theatre), and a town full of locals who speak a foreign language.

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