Unspoken and film as a family affair at the Turin FF

Article published on Dec. 1, 2008
Article published on Dec. 1, 2008
Nanni Moretti had said that this year’s Turin Film Festival would have explored the intimate rather than the political. And so it does: the leitmotif of above all the films in competition seems to be the family. Or, rather, family mourning, which strikes all, irregardless of geography, breaking down even audiences most inclined towards (melo)drama.

Dying (or about to die) are fathers (Canada’s Tomorrow), mothers (Mexican film Burn the Bridges and, from France, Donne-moi la main), children (Australian title Bitter and Twisted and Slovenia’s We’ve Never Been in Venice).

Children, however don’t so much die as disappear into thin air: this happens both in Helen and Belgian competition film Unspoken by Fien Troch, where a couple wear themselves out after their daughter Lisa went missing, five years earlier. “I depicted a pain that never dies,” said the director, “but continues – intimate, incomprehensible for outsiders looking in”.

The outside world, in fact, goes forward. Time has stopped only for Lukas and Grace, who experience the trauma each in their own way, and in their hearts continue to hope. He (Pierre Todeschini) clings to anonymous rings of the telephone, imagining his daughter on the other end; she (Emmanuelle Devos) believes she sees her in a passer-by in a red coat in the metro.

Trusting in her actors’ expressiveness, the director scrutinises their faces up close. “There are very many close-ups that fill the screen. I wanted the audience to feel the intimacy, even the smell of their skin,” adds Troch, “which is why I switched from the long shots of my first film, Someone Else’s Happiness [trailer]. In order to be sure of the results, I asked my editor for advice.” That is, her father, Ludo Troch. Film is truly a family affair at Turin.

Produced by Prime Time with Versus Production and Motel Film, in collaboration with Ryva, Unspoken is being sold by The Works International.

Gabriele Barcaro Cineuropa.org