World Documentaries at Festival dei Popoli 2020

Patti Smith during her visit to Florence in 2009

Sunday, Nov. 15 – Sunday, Nov. 22: Festival dei Popoli, International Documentary Film Festival.    Online streaming through Cinema La Compagnia accessed via Più Compagnia.  Showings in the original language with subtitles.

This year, the Tuscan-based Festival dei Popoli, or “Festival of the People,” arrives November 15 to 22 and is distinguished by virtual innovation, bringing the international documentary film festival and competition to anyone with “[a] connected device ‘as if one had a reserved seat at the cinema…’” Through the streaming platform MyMovies, viewers will be able to access 60 films showing in the event from the comfort of their homes. The documentaries will cover a variety of topics made by filmmakers from all over the world.

The 61st edition of Festival dei Popoli, titled “Life with Different Eyes,” provides an opportunity to explore other areas and cultures, and step into a life unbeknown to one’s own. Opening the festival is Edoardo Zucchetti’s Patti in Florence, documenting the iconic punk rocker Patti Smith’s unbreakable connection to Italy after her memorable 1979 performance and her return to the city exactly 30 years later (11/15 – 8:30 pm).

Premiering for the first time ever in Italy on home screens, there will be 18 films in the International Competition, a diverse group of documentaries from shorts to feature length. Seven are featured in the Italian Competition which showcases the best of this year’s Italian film documentaries and shares today’s Italy.

The world premiere of L’Occhio di Vetro (11/15ー3 pm) by Duccio Chiarini will kick off the Italian Competition. Here, Chiarini explores his own family history during the 1940s after the death of Mussolini and the liberation of Italy as accounted by his great uncle, Ferruccio Razzini.

Several awards will be given for the Best Short, Best Mid-Length, Best Feature Length, and for the Best Anthropological Film, also known as the Gian Paolo Paoli Award.

Others awards and cash prizes include the TENK Award for the best Italian film; Popoli Doc Home-Video Distribution Award; the “Imperdibili” Theatre Release Award; the “Il Cinemino,” for the body of work that best embodies commitment, social value, and is linguistically innovative; the CG Digital Distribution on Demand Award for Best European Film; and finally, the MyMovies Audience Award, in which all festival viewers will be able to cast their vote for the documentary that they liked the most.

In collaboration with Cinema Stensen and Unicoop Firenze, the family-friendly selection, Popoli for Kids and Teens, will have a jury of 14 to 17 year olds who will discuss the six films online and then select the best documentary of the section.

Amongst the non-competitive sections, viewers can also look at Habitat, featuring 9 Italian premiere titles about the changing environment; Let the Music Play, screenings dedicated to music; Doc Explorer, which examines the space where other creative outlets and cinema meet; and Diamonds are Forever, dedicated to the festival’s historical archive of 15,000 films. From November 26 to 29 there will also be a section of 12 documentaries offered that showcase the up and coming talent from the main European film schools called Doc at Work.

Also outside of the competition as a part of the festival’s special events is the premiere of Bulletproof (11/19ー8:30 pm) by Todd Chandler.  Bulletproof documents American education institutions and the preventive, albeit disturbing, measures that come to fruition in a post-Columbine era to protect students from outside threats.

All of the documentaries will be screening in their original language with English and Italian subtitles if needed. This edition also brings some added perks. For only €9.90 viewers can buy “tickets” to enter the virtual Più Compagnia theater room of Cinema La Compagnia from the MyMovies website, and follow the program while also getting access to panels, meetings with directors, and master classes. For a complete list of titles and showtimes, check the Festival dei Popoli website. (cathy doherty)