‘Lo Schermo dell’Arte’ 2023: Contemporary Art through Film, Exhibitions & Lectures

Willem Dafoe stars as Nemo in Schermo dell’Arte entry INSIDE.

Lo Schermo dell’Arte (Art on Screen), a celebration of contemporary art created by artists all over the world through film, exhibitions, and lectures, returns for its 16th edition from November 14 – 19. The festival, directed by Silvia Lucchesi and primarily taking place at Cinema La Compagnia (via Cavour 50/r) offers a selection of 30 screenings of films and documentaries, in English or with English subtitles.

The film festival begins on November 14 with the premiere of The Breath of Life, the first feature film by Guido Van Der Werve, which will be presented at Cinema La Compagnia in the artist’s presence. This film, structured in a series of scenes in which the past and present are intertwined, tells the “autofiction” story of Van Der Werve’s serious car accident in 2016. After remaining in a coma for a month, Van Der Werve underwent a difficult but miraculous rehabilitation. Through the use of flashbacks of his childhood which reveal his difficult relationship with his parents, 88 mm films and paintings made by his father, a choir and an orchestra that occasionally enters the scene, and an alter-ego of Van Der Werve played by a young girl, the film is pervaded by a sense of melancholy, diving into the fragility of life and the depths of human existence.  Guido Van Der Werve will present a lecture in English on his work through a mixture of performance and video on November 16 at 3:30 pm at Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, aula Ghiberti as part of the “Focus on Guido Van Der Werve” program of Lo Schermo Dell’arte.

After a series of impressive films over the week, the festival will close on November 19 with the Italian premiere of Inside, in the presence of the author, Vasilis Katsoupis. This feature, in English with Italian subtitles, stars Willem Dafoe as Nemo, an art thief who finds himself trapped in a luxury penthouse in New York City, surrounded by a collection of contemporary art after his heist goes awry. The apartment and the collection, specifically curated for the film, act as characters and play a fundamental role in the story. This psycho-thriller demonstrates the coexistence of claustrophobia, restlessness, brutalization, and hallucination. As the days pass, Nemo’s mental state worsens, culminating in a surprise ending. The paintings and installations seen in the film include works from Maxwell Alexander Maurizio Cattelan, Francesco Clemente, Petrit Halilaj, David Horvitz, and more. The trailer is available to view here. All films included in the festival are available to view online with streaming programming Più Compagnia in collaboration with MyMovies.it until November 26.

In addition to screenings, Lo Schermo dell’Arte includes productions such as The Magic Mountain, an art installation by Micol Roubini, which will be viewed from November 14 – 19 at Palazzo Strozzi. This 4-channel video installation investigates Balangero, the largest asbestos quarry in Europe, active between 1918 and 1990, and currently at the center of an extensive decontamination project. Analyzing the relationship between man and land, The Magic Mountain explores the process of colonization of the contaminated land by plants and lichens, paying particular attention to the history of the use of asbestos, a mineral considered to be magical since ancient times due to its fireproof properties. Though the history of the quarry is marked by dark events in Italian industrial history, the future is aimed at self-sufficiency in production and the restoration of large areas of the mountain to their surrounding communities. This project, supported by the Italian Council, is available for viewing from November 14 until November 19.

In conjunction with the Lo Schermo Dell’arte festival, the VISIO-European Program on Artists’ Moving Images, a research, residency, and production project created by Leonardo Bigazzi dedicated to supporting artists under 35 who use moving images in their practice, will return for its 12th edition. Eight selected artists will have the opportunity to develop their projects with the professionals present at the festival. Three of them will receive funding from the €30,000 VISIO production fund to produce and premiere their works for the Lo Schermo Dell’arte in 2024. The four recipients of the VISIO production fund in 2022, Simon Liu, Gerard Ortín Castellví, Maryam Tafakory, and Yuyan Wang, will premiere their works this year at the festival.

Gucci, the main sponsor of Lo Schermo dell’Arte since 2020, shows its continued support of the festival by offering free admission to the screenings for those under 30. On November 19 at 9  pm, the under-30 audience will be able to vote for the best film through the new Lo Schermo dell’Arte app, available for free download here. The winning film will be awarded an artist’s book created by Roberto Fassone and published by the Roi de Coupe publishing house. Among those who vote for the best film, two names will be selected to receive a €50 voucher to the Todo Modo bookstore, via de’ Fossi 15/r.

This is bound to be an especially rich and interesting year for Lo Schermo dell’Arte, as all of the artistic works involve political, social, environmental, and identity-related themes. Though people from all over the world will be at this year’s festival, we will all be united through the power of humanity and art.  (Abigail Dawson)