And the winner is … the one I didn’t see!
12 Sep 2011
Where I realize I have missed another Golden Lion winner, because of my friend Daniel’s dinner invitation and wonder why, it seems, you always have to choose between having fun and watching Russian art house.
It happened again. You watch so many films, there are 22 in the competition; American independent films, Israeli art house, Swedish social realism and experimental British stuff. And then. You turn your back, just once. And miss the Golden Lion winner.
It happened to me two years ago with the Israeli film Lebanon, and it happened again Wednesday night.
I had actually planned to watch Aleksandr Sokurov’s film Faust, a 134 minutes artistic investigation into the nature of evil. (And the fourth in a series of complex films on the topic!) And I was looking forward to it, because the festival is always a wonderful occasion to see suprisingly good films, which will never be distributed in my little country.
Then, my German-Spanish friend, Daniel, whom I got to know when doing press for him in Copenhagen for the beautiful DDR-comedy Goodbye, Lenin!, announces his arrival on the Lido with his new Spanish sci fi movie Eva and invites me for dinner at my favorite Lido trattoria Da Andrí.
I usually get text messages from him asking something like ”Are you by any chance in China?” And since, I am unfortunately rarely anywhere near China, I won’t miss this opportunity to catch up, show the latest pictures of my kids and hear his stories about working with Tarantino on Inglorious Basterds, where he plays a nazi hero with such charm and finesse that you almost like the guy:
”It was great fun. Except I had this thing going with Michael Fassbender, like a competition between Germany and Ireland, and before I knew it I had dared him to drink whisky with me. How stupid was I to challenge an Irish man to drink whisky?”
”Well”, I have to tell him: ”Pretty stupid, if you consider the fact that I drank you under the table, when we first met,” I say, reminding him of an evening several years ago in Copenhagen’s legendary waterhole Andy’s Bar, when Daniel was faced with the local drinking culture, which is nothing to be proud of, really, but in this case promoted friendships between the guests and hosts of the fabulous Night Film Festival, now merged with Cph:Pix.
”Oh my God, I had completely erased that from my memory. A Danish girl drinks me under the table and I take on an Irish man!”
Then, Daniel is off to finish his upcoming book Ein tag in Barcelona, and play Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s new film Rush.
Meanwhile, my current engagement with race cars is limited to playing with the toys from Cars 2, that I bought for my sons in Venice.
Anyway, since everybody I talked to after the screening of Sokurov’s Faust, said it was interesting but deadly boring, and that most of them had left the theatre long before the ending, I’ll write that Golden Lion to Faust off as the true mystery of a Venice Film Festival so rich in great films. Good thing though, that Michael Fassbender won La Coppa Volpi for best male lead in the fantastic British film Shame.
Still, I wonder why, it always seems like something comes between me and Russian art house films.
If there is a God of cinema, I should probably now go and watch Tarkovskij’s The Stalker five times in a row in order to repent myself.
There isn’t, is there?!