Italy, France, Switzerland
Special Jury Prize
Filmmakers of the Present
Presented in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute
Following a series of short films screened at dozens of festivals worldwide – starting with the revelation of Il capo at Venice in 2010 – and presented in museums, galleries and art events, Yuri Ancarani returns with a film whose title (The Challenge) could also refer to the demands involved in his most ambitious production to date, which is also his first to go beyond the hour mark in length. Ancarani has proven his mastery not just in the outstanding formal tension that typifies his gaze, but also in the subtle arts of diplomacy, perseverance and infiltration: the skills which gained him access to the places that his style has revealed with the impact of first discovery, from themarble quarries of Carrara to a deep-sea hyperbaric chamber, from an operating theater for robotic surgery to the classic media environment of Milan’s San Siro stadium. This time the journey was much longer. It began with a surreal photograph showing the interior of a passenger jet with the seats removed, the empty fuselage crowded with birds of prey and men wearing Arab robes and headdress, and it took him to Qatar, where premiere sports events and massive investment in culture and the arts build an impressive facade for Western observers, but where behind the scenes the true passion of the sheikhs is falconry. In this film once again human beings take second place, but this time not to the location, technology or architecture that overwhelms them. Instead the priceless raptors take center stage (alongside another unforgettable animal star, but we will avoid any spoilers on that). The mysterious, almost sacred birds are reluctant protagonists, making Ancanari’s debt to Herzog the more conspicuous in a film that addresses the spectacle of a new form of soft power.
By Sergio Fant