Maria Grazia Cucinotta of Il Postino joins Greggio at press conference
The press conference organized at the Fairmont Hotel on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, was the official kick-off for the 12th edition of the Monte-Carlo Film Festival of Comedy that will run until Saturday, February 28, 2015. The first to arrive was the festival’s founder and president, Monaco resident of Italian origin Ezio Greggio, who is also the festival’s energetic and charismatic Master of Ceremonies, accompanied by distinguished members of the Jury. Among them were well-known French director Claude Zidi, actress Yllka Mujo, festival programmer Markus Duffner, and beautiful and voluptuous Italian actress and producer Maria Grazia Cucinotta, that ignited the room as soon as she appeared, with the photographers lenses focusing mainly on her. She really spiced the press conference!
Markus Duffner, who in responsible for the selection and programming of the 8 films in competition, that are being screened at the Theatres des Varietes, explained that this edition has both an international and innovative character. Notably with the introduction of black humor as a new category, and another one sprinkled with psychology about the search for happiness, plus a comedy inspired by Japanese manga. The films nominated represent the following countries: USA, Japan, Hungary, Spain, Serbia, Uruguay, Germany and Canada.
Also present at the conference was the festival’s guest of honor, no other than Peter Bogdanovich, an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer and critic born July 30, 1939 in New York. He was part of the wave of “New Hollywood” directors, which included William Friedkin, Brian de Palma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Michael Cimino and Francis Ford Coppola. His most critically acclaimed film is The Last Picture Show (1971).
The festival actually opened with the screening of Peter Bogdanovich’s film in avant premiere in Europe but outside competition,“She’s funny that way” featuring American actress, director and producer Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson and other well known actors. Bogdanovich said: “It is great to have a film festival dedicated to comedy. Typically, festivals show films that are sad or depressive.”
An exceptional jury
The festival has a selection committee formed by movie experts who work for other international festivals. This year they viewed more than 60 films from all continents.
The President of the Jury is Italian actor, director and screenwriter Giovanni Veronesi. He has written scripts for Francesco Nuti, Leonardo Pieraccioni, Massimo Ceccherini, Carlo Verdone, before becoming a commercial success filmmaker with What will become of us (2004), and specially box office successes Manual of Love (2005) and its sequels (2007 and 2011).
Claude Zidi is a French film director and screenwriter who is noted for his mainstream burlesque comedies, and is internationally acclaimed master of French Comedy. Zidi was quoted saying at the press conference: “A good comedy is above all sharing with the public. You have to make the film come alive in a full movie theatre.”
Maria Grazia Cucinotta who is originally from Sicily, has been featured in many films and television series since 1990. Her debut in cinema was besides Greggio with the comedy Christmas Vacation. She has also worked as a producer, screenwriter and model. Internationally she is best known for her roles in Il Postino and as the Bond girl in The World is Not Enough.
Lee Scott Marshall is a British film critic, arts correspondent, travel writer and cultural commentator. His film reviews have been published in many movie industry magazines but also known publications like Daily Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller, Financial Times to name a few. He also writes a regular blog for Internazionale, the Italian weekly magazine.
Yllka Mujo is an Albanian actress, specially known for her roles in movies from her country during the communist regime.
The prize ceremony for the nominated films, actors, actresses, directors and musicians, will take place on Saturday, Februray 28 at 20:00, during the Gala Evening at the Auditorium Rainier III, where French director and producer Josee Dayan together with French film actor, director and writer Robert Hossein will be honored for their overall careers.
The Festival program
On Tuesday, February 24, there was a film screened in avant-premiere but out of competition, entitled She’s Funny that Way, USA, 2014 – The cast and crew of a Broadway play are thrown into a romantic roundelay when a lecherous director hires a hooker-turned-actress to star alongside his wife and his wife’s ex-lover.
On Wednesday, February 25, three films in competition were screened:
Thermae Romae II – Japan, 2014 – I a sequel to a goofy Japanese film set in ancient Rome and featuring bath builder Lucius who finds himself in modern-day Japan from time to time. This film is both comic and surreal that bascules between the Roman Empire and contemporary Japan.
Tokyo Fiancee, Belgium, Canada, France, 2014 – A young Japanophile Belgian woman in Tokyo falls into a whirlwind romance with a Francophile Japanese student.
For Some Inexplicable Reason, Hungary, 2014 – Aaron is about to turn 30, cannot find a job, and is dumped by his girlfriend. During a booze-soaked night out in Budapest, he buys a one-way ticket to Lisbon. Who knows what the future will bring.
On Thursday, February 26, three films will be projected:
10:30 – Carmina Y Amen, Spain, 2014 – A 50-year-old woman tries to hide that her husband is dead to be able to obtain his pension. It is a rather unusual but amusing story about resilience and the joy of life.
15:00 – The Farewell Party, Germany/Israel, 2014 – Levana and Yehezkel, a married couple in a retirement home, love being together until a pair of devastating challenges suddenly threatens to divide them.
19:00 – The Laws of Desire, Italy, 2015 (out of competition) – The desires of men make th world turn. In order to get what we wish, each day, we modify our reality ourselves, or at least we try. Life coach Giovanni Canton is considered like a prophet by his fans. In order to prove his theories he organizes a contest for the selection of three winners who will try his method. A deep relationship with one of the candidates will affect their lives and that of Giovanni.
On Friday, February 27, three more films will be projected:
10:30 – Monument to Michel Jackson, Serbia, Germany, Macedonia, France, Croatia, 2014 – Marko hopes that building a monument to Michel Jackson will help revive his Serbian village and the relationship with his estranged wife.
15:00 – Mr. Kaplan, Uruguay, Spain, Germany, 2014 – After fleeing Europe for Uruguay during WWII, Jacob Kaplan enjoys a quiet life. Now 76, he begins to question his worth. After learning of a mysterious German prowling the shores of a nearby beach, he becomes convinced that he’s found a Nazi in hiding and plans to expose him. Mr. Kaplan is a vivacious meditation on family, growing old, and the drive to find a sense to life.
19:00 – Hector and the Search for Happiness, Germany, Canada, UK, South Africa, 2014 – Disillusioned with the tedium of his existence, psychiatrist Hector confesses to his girlfriend that he feels he is a fraud for dispensing recommendations to patients who never seem to improve or get happier. He considers breaking out of his lackluster routine, and embarks on an international quest to find the right formula to bring him joy and vitality.
For the Gala Evening on Saturday, February 28 at 20:00hs, the tickets are for sale at FNAC or on line at: http://goo.gl/7M3BvQ
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A final message about the art of doing comedy films
At the press conference Peter Bogdanovich was asked if it was difficult to do comedy compared to drama, and he quoted what a friend once told him: “An onion can make you cry, but name a vegetable that can make you laugh!”