The jagged profile of the Alps by starlight, traces of a crime on the fallen snow, a detective with an unmistakable silhouette, and an enormous, camera-shaped monolith sticking out of the ground after falling from space. It´s the logo for this year´s edition of the Courmayeur Noir in Festival, as designed by Guido Manuli, the master Italian cartoonist whom we are honouring with a personalized Noir Compilation.
Festivalgoers are in for a slew of surprises and a dollop of the unexpected at this year´s NoirFest co-directed by Giorgio Gosetti and Marina Fabbri and unfolding at the foot of Mont Blanc December 9-14.
Let´s start with the end of the event: special celebrations are in order for Gabriele Salvatores, whose love of mystery meets the kingdom of the imagination in his new film, Invisible Boy, as he turns the camera on that enigmatic transition from childhood to adolescence. Plus, a truly unique snowman to kick off the start of the winter season; two very special birthdays for all lovers of noir in all its possible variations; and lastly, a tennis tournament between fans and stars courtesy of Double Yellow – Doppio Giallo.
The three threads underlying this edition will be the ‘Double´, Fear and Memory: three takes on a single journey, the road less travelled by for over twenty years, by a festival offering its own unique « house specialty » fare.
Special guest scribe at an event that has always combined the silver screen and the printed page is none other than Jeffery Deaver, winner of the Raymond Chandler Award in the same year Rizzoli is bringing out the Italian translation of his The Skin Collector, which marks the return of the detective duo Lincoln Rhyme/Amelia Sachs, the darlings of readers the world over ever since The Bone Collector. Exactly 50 years ago, Mario Bava inaugurated a long line of Italian thrillers with his film Blood and Black Lace, inimitable model for an entire genre. Today, on the centenary of the filmmaker´s birth and thanks to Arrow Films and the Cineteca di Bologna, the film is back, impeccably restored, and accompanied by the director´s son Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento, who will be in Courmayeur to present his autobiography Paura, just published by Einaudi.
But 1964 marked another milestone in noir: the appearance of George Smiley, John le Carré´s literary creation and his own « double ». The Spy Who Came In From the Cold was being filmed, directed by Martin Ritt, and Smiley joined the club as one of the myriad secret agents in Berlin during the Cold War.
And just in time for the Italian release of Anton Corbijn´s A Most Wanted Man, the director of Film London, Adrian Wootton, will be at Courmayeur to tell festivalgoers everything they always wanted to know about George Smiley.
As every year, the strong suit of the festival will be its film premieres in the Official Selection and the literary season´s bestsellers showcased in the Conversations with writers. The confirmed lineup features the English film Snow in Paradise by debut filmmaker Andrew Hulme; a U.S. entry, Things People Do by Saar Klein, starring Wes Bentley from Hunger Games; the revelation from Cannes last spring, White God by Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó, Oscar® nominee; the Irish film Calvary by John Michael McDonagh, with a star turn by Brendan Gleeson, a priest fielding a secret from the confessional and a death threat; an Italian entry, In the Box, debut film by Giacomo Lesina with Antonia Liskova; and the western noir The Salvation by Kristian Levring, starring Mads Mikkelsen, a solitary avenger after the manner of Sergio Leone.
There’s a brand-new entry on the lineup as well: the international premiere of Black Sea by Kevin Macdonald (whose Last King of Scotland triumphed at the Oscars, earning Forest Whitaker the Best Actor award). Here it’s a diabolical Jude Law who could be up for that statuette the next time around. Black Sea is being distributed in Italy by Notorious Pictures, to whom the festival is especially grateful, for believing in us as the ideal platform to launch this auteur thriller.
Heartfelt thanks as well to Walt Disney Italia, who is bringing the world premiere of Big Hero 6 to the NoirFest for its closing day. Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, this fantastical Christmas cartoon movie for young and old features the adventurous robot hero Baymax.
The authors in attendance besides the five shortlisted for the Giorgio Scerbanenco Prize La Stampa for best Italian noir fiction of the year include: Gianrico Carofiglio (La regola dell’equilibrio, Einaudi), Carlo Lucarelli (Albergo Italia, Einaudi), Stefano Tura (Tu sei il prossimo, Fazi), Joakim Zander (The Swimmer/Il nuotatore, Bompiani), Robert Karjel (The Swede/Lo svedese, Rizzoli), and Ingrid Astier (Quai des enfers/Omicidi sulla Senna, Bompiani), as well as the noir masters Fois, Dazieri, Bonini, De Cataldo, Pandiani and Morchio with their anthology I semi del male (Rizzoli) and the « grande dame of the Italian thriller », Elisabetta Cametti (K. Nel mare del tempo, Giunti).
For the 90th anniversary of the Istituto Luce, the festival renews its collaboration with Istituto Luce Cinecittà to promote Italy´s film heritage, and joins forces with the Trame Festival on a special event entitled Trame il Sud in Bianco e Nero, moderated by Gaetano Savatteri and featuring rare film footage from the Luce archives. For the occasion, parts of the documentary Malerba by Toni Trupia will be screened (work in progress).
And together with the Scuola Holden the NoirFest is arranging a workshop on the latest trends in TV series with the school´s teachers, screenwriters Stefano Sardo, Dario Bonamin and Francesca De Lisi, while Sky Atlantic and Fox Crime treat festivalgoers to the hot U.S. series that will be dominating the 2014/2015 season.
Other treats that will take you by surprise this year include an utterly unpredictable web series by the Manetti brothers, featuring the legendary Rex; the return of Federico Zampaglione, Luca Argentero and Domiziano Cristopharo; an incursion into psycho-rock by the band Bébé Donge, whose muse has always been Simenon´s controversial, poison-wielding murderess; the countermelody of Stefano Covri´s « underworld ballads » and a series of talks with entertainment figures during the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of talent agency Officine Artistiche.
Last but not least, the festival serves up an original tennis-heavy cocktail blending actors, directors and ordinary fans to launch the first edition of Doppio Giallo, the tennis tournament by invitation only which teams up stars and dilettantes in a fight to the last tie break. A little homage to Farley Granger and the greatest tennis match in film history, from Alfred Hitchcock´s Strangers on a Train, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith.
the Courmayeur Noir in Festival
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