I'll admit that I find Alba Rohrwacher the most exciting Italian actress of our times. Apart from a shared common background -- her mother is Italian, her dad German and she was also born in Florence -- I find Rohrwacher's professional choices courageous and wildly passionate. In fact, she is the antithesis of the typical Italian actress, doing the average Italian roles offered to her, probably because she herself is not your typical Italian woman. In fact, I dare say, Alba Rohrwacher is not your typical anything. She is fantastically different and perfectly unconventional.
That said, in Laura Bispuri's latest 'Figlia Mia', which in English seamlessly becomes 'Daughter of Mine -- it's not often that translations work as well, but here it fits! -- Rohrwacher is paired with the sultry, throaty voiced Valeria Golino, and newcomer Sara Casu who plays little Vittoria, their contended child. Together they create a trio of wonder women to put all other super heroes to rest. Their vulnerabilities and imperfections are so candidly portrayed, and discreetly highlighted by their filmmaker without judgement or criticism, that when their characters' inner strength and ability to cooperate are finally uncovered, I felt like clapping out loud.
And my instincts, my strong positive feelings about the film were only confirmed when I read some knee-jerk reaction by a male critic who is clearly not in touch with his inner woman. Oh Laura Bispuri, how much I love thee! So far at Berlinale, I dare say 'Daughter of Mine' is my personal favorite.
From the fabulous women of 'Daughter of Mine' to a wondrous man, my early Sunday morning at Berlinale was spent in the company of Elia Suleiman, the Palestinian filmmaker extraordinaire and Artistic Advisor of the Doha Film Institute.
Suleiman was joined by Hanna Issa, Deputy Director of Qumra and Director of Strategy and Development at Doha Film Institute, to talk about the upcoming fourth edition of Qumra, a one-of-a-kind event initiative held every Spring in Doha to help and create grassroots (read: great!) cinema.
Divided in three main sections -- the Qumra Master Classes held daily and led by one of their invited Qumra Masters, the Qumra Meetings which combine one-on-one mentoring by industry insiders with a workshop format to help individual projects, and the Qumra Screenings, which are open to the public -- the event this year will benefit from the wisdom and experience of Masters Gianfranco Rosi ('Fuocommare', 'Sacro GRA'), Andrey Zvyagintsev ('Leviathan', 'Loveless'), Apichatpong Weerasethakul ('Tropical Malady', 'Cemetery of Splendour'), Bennett Miller ('Capote', 'Foxcatcher') and triple Academy Award winning costume designer Sandy Powell ('The Young Victoria', 'Shakespeare in Love').
But now that we have the formalities out of the way, I'm personally excited to see some familiar names in the line-up of invited projects to Qumra 2018, people like Basil Khalil, whose Oscar-nominated short 'Ave Maria' blew me away in Cannes a few years ago, and Mohamed Ben Attia who won the Best First Feature Award with 'Hedi' at the 2016 Berlinale. His producer on this latest project 'Weldi' is also 'Hedi' producer Dora Bouchoucha, whom I featured in my "Exceptional Arab Women in Film" series, not too long ago.
As Suleiman pointed out, while he was growing up with the desire to make films, there were not many people around willing to help, and he's always wanted to change that. In the small Palestinian filmmaking community, actually, established directors tried to squash the efforts of young wannabes. He wanted to be different and I say, thank goodness for being different! So as a mentor to young filmmakers, Suleiman has taken on his most influential role yet, changing the future of so many up and coming directors, who will benefit from his wisdom, from observing his talent at work and will cherish the opportunity to find within his guidance, the courage to be unique.
Because I believe that it is only through the fascinating stories coming out of the Arab world, that we will find our peace.
Filmmakers are the prophets of our time, and they possess the power to change the world.