World Documentaries at the 2021 ‘Festival dei Popoli’ Film Festival

Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, subject of a biopic with European premiere at the 2021 Festival dei Popoli

The organizers of the Festival dei Popoli are pleased to announce that this year’s events come back to Tuscany in real life, person to person and person to event from November 20 through 28.  The international documentary film festival, Europe’s oldest, offers a calendar of exciting and thought-provoking events.  

This year’s special theme Burning Borders (Frontiere in Fiamme) showcases 15 films in a tribute to filmmakers Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Percival.  The two French filmmakers, known for illuminating social and cultural issues worldwide, have created 14 full length films as well as numerous short films, videos and installations.  The Festival dei Popoli this year presents the Italian preview of their 2021 film “Nous Disons Revolution” (Let’s Say Revolution), which bears witness to those who use movement and dance to survive.  The filmmakers take the viewer to Sao Paulo and Barcelona and a refugee camp on a canal near Paris, giving an intimate picture of escapes sought by people who are displaced or hunted.  

The festival screens several other films directed and written by Klotz and Percival, including “Paria,” a story of two youths, one homeless and one down and out, who meet by chance on New Year’s Eve and delve into the world of outcasts in the underbelly of Paris.  A poignant story unfolds in “Low Life,” when young Carmen falls in love with Hussain, an Afghan poet waiting for political asylum.  In “La Question Humane” a corporate psychologist examines connections between Nazism and contemporary technology and big business.  

In all, Festival dei Popoli includes 80 documentaries covering a wide range of subjects.  The national premiere of “Diários de Otsoga,” a film shot by Miguel Gomes and Maureen Fazendeiro, features a crew committed to making a feature film during the pandemic restrictions of 2020.  Kim A. Snyder’s “Us Kids” tells the tragic tale of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre through the words of the young survivors.  “Lawrence,” directed by Elisa Polimeni and Giada Diana and shot in iconic locations in San Francisco and the Bay Area, reveals an intimate portrait of the Beat poet Ferlinghetti.

Several music themed offerings can appeal to fans of progressive rock, “In the Court of the Crimson King,” or an esoteric look at the controversial Spanish musician known as El Niño de Elche, who took on flamenco music in ways previously unknown.

In the Out of Competition section, the “Tuscans,” depicts the wild times in the encampment that precedes the Italian motorcycle Grand Prix held annually in the Mugello, the valley just north of Florence in the foothills of the Apennines.  “The Hidden Giant” (Il Gigante Nascosto) by Tommaso Landucci tells the story of artist Filippo Dobrilla, an artist who has dedicated more than 30 years in sculpting a marble colossus in a cave 650 meters (2. 230 ft.) deep in the Apuan Alps.  Angelo Cretella and Artemide Alfieri’s “The White Caravan,” (La Carovana Bianca) reveals the life of four circus families who reside in the outskirts of Naples waiting for the pandemic to disappear as if in a magic show in the circus.

The festival winds up with Young Jury Day on November 28 with a full day program of screenings in which teens become the film jury.  Three international films, shown between 9:30 am and 5:15 pm, will be available to young people only.  “Raise the Bar,” an Icelandic-Finnish film, highlights a girls’ basketball team with an unorthodox coach who together attempt to break down cultural barriers.  In “Soul Kids” viewers can experience the atmosphere at the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee, which has promoted a climate to open dialogue about civil rights.  In this film viewers get a glimpse into the lives of black Americans and new possibilities for the future.  Finally, the French movie “Bigger Than Us” tells the story of a young activist who has launched a campaign to ban disposable plastic in Indonesia.  Young Melati travels around the world to meet other young activists who share the same goal of changing the planet.  (rita kungel)

The Festival dei Popoli features films for all interests and tastes which will be screened in venues spread around Florence.  Entrance can be accessed by producing a Green Pass or equivalent certificate of full vaccination.  Further information and links to times and tickets can be found at the festival website: