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Provocative movie on separation between love and sex creates a stir at Rome Film Festival

posted 16 Nov 2012, 06:15 by Mpelembe   [ updated 16 Nov 2012, 06:15 ]

Italian film about a man unable to make love to the woman he is in love with causes controversy at the Rome Film Festival.

OFFICINE UBU - Italian director Paolo Franchi's provocative new movie "They Call It Summer" ("E la Chimano Estate") examines the separation between love and sex.

The movie, based on a real-life case Franchi spotted in a journal of psychoanalysis, follows Anna andDino, an enamoured couple in their forties.

While the two feel they have found "the one" in each other, Dino, however, is unable to have a physical relationship with Anna.

Obsessed with sex, he turns to prostitutes and swingers parties to fulfil his physical desires while idealising the real love of his life.

Anna, on her part, is frustrated but unable to leave the man she loves.

"The sexual impulse doesn't necessarily follow the feeling. When a feeling becomes strong one risks to excessively idealise the object of desire and this, consequently, may lead to the sublimation of the sexual desire," Franchi told Reuters Television at the Rome Film Festival.

The movie tackles a theme similar to last year's indie hit "Shame". But Franchi said he did not want to draw parallels between the two films, adding that "They Call It Summer" is more of a study of a relationship of the complex modern times.

"It is more about the situation of a couple and he is committing these compulsive sexual acts. However, more than a story about a lone man, it is a story about the relationship of a couple that has this void which they are unable to fill," he said.

Franchi's leading man Dino is played by Lars Von Trier-regular Jean-Marc Barr.

The actor said the story hit close to home.

Barr said he had been raised in a very Catholic military family and his education made him "idealise the woman". In his twenties, Barr said, he fell hard for a woman, but by putting her up on a pedestal, he lost the desire to have sex with her.

He said he had found it important to tell the story that is very unconventional for the entertainment world.

"Because the only thing left to us in this world is our body. That's the only thing where we can pursue our freedom. We live in a culture through religion and through political ideology and through commercialism that tries to control our sexuality. When you control someone's sexuality, you control them completely. So I try to work with people who explore and question their own freedoms, and I just finished another picture with Lars Von Trier, Nymphomaniac, which is going to, I think, expand the subject. I think today we live in such a world where actors and directors are forced to entertain and babysit, and it's not our job, you know. So I think part of the population of the actors and directors should pursue a social questionings, philosophical questionings, ask questions and that's what I go to films for," Barr said.

The film caused a stir at the Rome Film Festival, where it is screening in the Competition section and was panned by Italian journalists.

Renowned Italian actress Isabella Ferrari, who plays the part of Anna, said she had not been surprised by the reaction in the country which she described as "very conservative and somewhat culturally ignorant".

"To see and to hear how a film of this type can cause a scandal can be explained by the fact that the film reveals to us a part of ourselves many would rather not see, because we are revealed in sex, in pain, in love...this is a film that sticks on you, that can hurt you. It is a film that.,.it's a film. Either you like it or you don't," she said.

Franchi is no stranger to controversy. His second feature film "Fallen Heroes" about a troubled youngster who decides to kill his parents caused a commotion when it screened at the Venice Film Festival in 2007.

The film's makers said they expected the movie to fare better outside of Italy.

"They Call It Summer" is partly produced by the wife of the late Italian tenor Luciano PavarottiNicoletta Mantovani and the production company 'Pavarotti International 23'.