Dulce, by Spanish director Ivan Ruiz Flores is the first winner of HAB 2011, the festival showcasing short films. The prize-giving ceremony was held in Venice on Sunday 9th October and Cristian Benaglio was also awarded the Jury’s Prize for his short film, Come si dice. Benaglio received the prize of a fountain pen commemorating the 220 years of Venice’s La Fenice theatre, which Montegrappa made in a numbered, limited edition of only 1790 pieces.
This magnificent pen is made from celluloid and precious metals, drawing inspiration from the chandeliers, the columns, the exquisite, rococo style filigree work and the suggestive details that decorate the interiors of the legendary Venice opera house. The result is an opulent, deluxe, ornate item… like opera standards have required for all time.
The ceremony ended with a speech by Francis Ford Coppola, who greeted the HAB audience via videoconference, and also gave his personal impression and assessment of the award-winning short films: he praised the great acting of the children and the quality of the script in Dulce; in addition to the fine acting, Come si dice impressed him in particular for the way the plot built up, eventually leading to a highly effective finale.
Coppola also discussed the part that short films play on the international film-making scene with Daniele Biondi – moderator for the evening and curator of the festival: according to the US maestro, short films are an extremely important movie-making formula, not only because they are easily accessible but also because the short story form has always been – in the American culture, at least – a form of expression used by so many of the greats (Hemingway included).
But HAB 2011 was more than just a simple film competition. This festival diverged from the standard film festival formula focusing mainly on screening movies and it was distinguished by the variety of meetings scheduled and people involved: ranging from leading experts from the world of cardiology (Doctors Antonio Raviele and Andrea Natale, Professors A. John Camm and Douglas P. Zipes) and from the world of cinema (Zanussi, Nunziante, Wieczynski, Christopher Newman and Coppola himself), in addition to notable celebrities of Italian and international culture (Russian writer Nicolai Lilin, Brazilian pianist and composer Marcelo Cesena, Italian musician Omar Pedrini).
During his keynote address, Italy’s “blockbuster” director, Gennaro Nunziante discussed comedy in the Italian film industry. Rafal Wieczynski, author of Popieluszko, talked about the cinematographic approach to history. Nicolai Lilin, author of Siberian Education, focused on the theme of “Drama and passion: at the heart of our origins”, while Polish director, Krzysztof Zanussi discussed “the true relationship between cinema and the audience, which is stronger than the relationship between general public and literature and more able to embrace viewers and draw them into a real experience”.
The concert by Marcelo Cesena was particularly appreciated; this virtuoso pianist performed both his own compositions and classical music by such greats as Chopin and Bach, using the language of music to lay bare his heart.
Two extremely important master classes were also held at the Molino Stucky Hilton Hotel by Roberto Zammarchi and Paolo Baccolo, video-editing experts from the two leading competitors on the market: Apple and Adobe.
“Heart speaks unto heart”: this first edition of HAB 2011 did just that, bringing together personalities and sensibilities who manage to look at the world with intelligence and insight. Each person was guided by their personal experience and cultural background but they were always open-minded, debating the viewpoints of others and considering what the world of cinema – and our own hearts – can reveal to us.