During lunch I was seated with Marina and Kamate, the two other members of the ecumenical jury. We shared the round table with 6 other people. We had lasagna for primo piatto and lamb steak as il secondo. Alban wine flowed like the Fontana de Trevi, which fired up our conversations. For dessert we had fresh fruits.
Next to Kamate was a man named Gianfranco. Later on I learned that Gianfranco is the director of a film fest in Genova, Italy. What distinguishes his festival from other film fests in the world is that it zeroes in on the relationship between food and film. My mind wondered how many films are there that concentrate on gastronomy. When I mentioned that I am Filipino, Gianfranco’s face lighted up. He said that he once visited the Philippines some years back to judge a film festival. He distinctly remembered Manila, Cebu, Bohol and Davao – places that left a deep impression on him. Gianfranco enumerated those places as if his best friends lived there. With unmistakable joy, he recollected his unforgettable moments in the Chocolate Hills and in the island of Cebu.
After lunch I watched 5 films directed by Laila Pakalnina, a Latvian filmmaker. The titles (The Oak, Papa Gena, It’ll Be Fine, Martin, Dreamland) are as varied as the themes portrayed in her short films. Laila’s style is one of the most original I have ever seen. She seems to like making slow and long takes, as if she needs time to enter into the places she has chosen. After the showing of her films Laila went on stage to dialogue with the audience. She explained that for her the most important thing in a film is the atmosphere. That is why she likes long takes to first establish the ambiance and to allow people to calm down and stop rushing. Another thing very noticeable in Laila’s works is the focus on small things – like insects, an autumn leaf, the eye of a bird, or the fruit of a tree. She explained that if film had a mission, it would be to help people see how interesting life is by showing the small details. It is her philosophy that all the truth about life lies in the details.
I had capricciosa pizza, beer, and tiramisù for dinner. Actually I was not planning to drink it tonight but when the waitress suggested La Bière du Démon I ordered one bottle because it reminded me of my sojourn in Belgium where I studied French and first tasted that beer. La Bière du Démon is literally “The Demon’s Beer” in English, so called because of its extra strong alcohol content (12 %). And it is supposed to go with La Pizza del Diavolo (The Devil’s Pizza), so named because it is burning with red hot pepper. I only wanted to be half devilish tonight so I had capricciosa to go with La Bière du Démon.
After dinner I watched “Onde” (Waves), an independent Italian film by Francesco Fei. It is about Luca, a blind music composer who loves the underwater world and Francesca, a beautiful girl who is traumatized by a huge birthmark on her left cheek. Theirs is a love that is torn by their own personal fears and insecurities. Francesca finds it hard to believe that somebody could love her despite her physical defect while Luca believes that Francesca loves him out of pity for his blindness.