Still from Miracle, written and directed by Assistant Professor and alumnus Bogdan George Apetri '06

Several Alumni and Faculty Films Screened at 2021 Venice Film Festival, Maggie Gyllenhaal (CC ’99) Wins

BY Nicole Saldarriaga, September 14, 2021

The Venice International Film Festival has awarded alumna Maggie Gyllenhaal (CC '99) the honor of Best Screenplay for her film The Lost Daughter.

 

The Lost Daughter, which Gyllenhaal wrote and directed, is based on the Elena Ferrante novel of the same name. The film stars Olivia Colman as Leda, a middle-aged woman who takes a vacation by the sea only to become obsessed with another woman and her daughter, "prompting memories of her own early motherhood to come back and unravel her."

 

Winning in Venice was especially meaningful for Gyllenhaal, who was not only married in Puglia, Italy, but also first learned she was pregnant with her second daughter while she was in the country as well. 

 

“My life as a director and a writer—and my film—was born here, in this theatre,” Gyllenhaal said in her acceptance speech. “When I read Elena Ferrante for the first time, there was a kind of shock from hearing things that I had always known deep inside myself were true spoken out loud, some secret truths about being a woman in the world. Of course they’re not really secret, they’re just unspoken. In a way as women we’ve been born into an agreement to be silent, and reading Ferrante broke the agreement. Sitting alone in my room with her book I felt the power of something old shattering and it was both terrifying and exciting.”

 

Gyllenhaal went on to describe how she had previously felt that same electrifying feeling when she watched Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993) during her high school years. Campion was awarded the Silver Lion Award for Best Director at this year’s Venice International Film Festival for her latest film, The Power of the Dog (2021).

 

“I thought, what about having these secret truths not just alone by myself in my room reading this book,” Gyllenhaal pondered, “but what happens when you put them on screen in a room with a whole lot of people, and you can hear these truths spoken out loud sitting next to your husband, or your mother, or your daughter, or even a stranger—weeping. I wanted to try to create a shared experience, which is film.”

 

You can find a complete list of the 2021 Venice International Film Festival here.

 

Original Article: July 21, 2021

 

The Venice International Film Festival has announced its lineup for the 78th iteration of the festival. Taking place September 1–11, 2021 and organized by La Biennale di Venezia, the festival's aim “is to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue.” Several alumni and faculty films will screen at the festival this year. Take a look below for the lineup.

 

In the Horizons Category

Celebrates new trends in world cinema.

 

Miracle  

Written and Directed by Assistant Professor and alumnus Bogdan George Apetri '06 

 

Miracle follows 19-year-old nun Cristina (Iona Bugarin) as she sneaks out of her monastery to attend to "an urgent matter at a hospital in the nearby city." When her problem goes unresolved, she continues to return to the hospital, only to meet an unexpected fate on her way back to the monastery. Marius (Emanuel Pârvu) is the police officer assigned to her case, and we watch her story unfold as he retraces her exact steps. 

 

A former lawyer in Romania, Bogdan George Apetri's student films screened and won awards at prominent short film festivals across the world. He was a National Finalist at the Student Academy Awards in 2006. In 2010, he directed and wrote the feature film Periferic (Outbound). Funded in part by Romania's National Center for Cinema, the film was shown at some of the best festivals across the world and won numerous international awards including the FIPRESCI Award twice. Bogdan co-produced 3 Backyards by Eric Mendelsohn, a feature film that won the Best Directing Award at Sundance in 2010 and was selected for New Directors/New Films in New York. He co-produced Advantageous by Jennifer Phang (Jury Prize at Sundance in 2015), The Bravest, the Boldest by Moon Molson (Sundance 2014), The Mend by John Magary, Nobody’s Watching by Julia Solomonoff, Love Hunter by Nemanja and Brane Bala, Dog by Florin Serban and Blaze by Ethan Hawke (Sundance, 2018).

 

In the Horizons Extra Category

Celebrates new trends without restrictions of genre, audience, and length.

 

7 Prisoners 

Produced by Associate Professor and alumnus Ramin Bahrani (CC '96)

 

This Brazilian Netflix film will make its world premiere at the festival on September 6, 2021. 18-year-old Mateus (Christian Malheiros) accepts a job at a junkyard in São Paulo run by Luca (Rodrigo Santoro). Unbeknownst to him, Mateus's new job is a trap which sucks him into a work system that amounts to slavery and human trafficking. 

 

Ramin Bahrani is an award-winning Iranian American writer, director and producer. His films have premiered in Venice, Cannes, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. In 2010 legendary film critic Roger Ebert proclaimed Bahrani as “the director of the decade.” Bahrani has won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a “Someone to Watch” Independent Spirit Award. He has been the subject of retrospectives around the world and all his cinematic work is housed in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His feature films have won numerous awards.

Still from 7 Prisoners, produced by Associate Professor and alumnus Ramin Bahrani (CC '96)

Costa Brava, Lebanon 

Directed by Mounia Akl '17; Co-Written by Clara Roquet '16; Edited by Cyril Aris '17 

 

This feature film follows the Badri family who flee from the pollution of Beirut by building themselves a "utopic self sustainable mountain home." After they move in, they are shocked to find that a landfill is being built right outside their fence, leading to mounting tensions and threatening their utopian lifestyle. 

 

Mounia Akl is an award-winning Lebanese filmmaker living between Beirut and New York. Her short film, Submarine (2016), was in the official selection of the 69th Cannes Film Festival (Cinefondation), SXSW, TIFF and Dubai International Film Festival where it won the Muhr Jury Prize. In 2017, Akl took part in the Lebanon Factory and co-directed a short film El Gran Libano, which opened Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and screened at Sarajevo Film Festival and BFI London among others. Akl recently completed the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéfondation Residency in Paris with her first feature, Costa Brava Lebanon. The project was also selected to participate in Torino Film Lab Feature Lab and in the Sundance Institute Screenwriters and Directors Lab.

 

Clara Roquet (1988) started her career co-writing the multi-awarded 10,000 Km (2014), alongside director Carlos Marques-Marcet. Soon thereafter she started her first writing-directing venture, the short film El Adiós (2015), EFA nominee, premiered at Toronto IFF and BAFTA Students Award winner. Since then, Clara has collaborated with directors such as Jaime Rosales, Paula Ortiz, Isabel Coixet, Mounia Akl, and Antonio Méndez Esparza, among others.

 

Cyril Aris is a Lebanese Director & Screenwriter based in New York and Beirut, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His debut feature documentary, The Swing (2018), premiered at the Karlovy Vary IFF, and won awards in El-Gouna, Rome, London, Budapest, and Tunisia. He has taught Film at Columbia University, NHSI at Northwestern University, and Barnard College. 

Still from Costa Brava, Lebanon, directed by Mounia Akl '17; co-written by Clara Roquet '16; edited by Cyril Aris '17

In the Horizons Short Films Category

Presents short films lasting a maximum of 20 minutes, selected on the basis of quality, originality of language, and expression.

 

Hair Tie, Egg, Homework Books 

Produced by Wang Lu Ka '20

 

In this short film, 5th grader Lin Yuqi (Junyan Miao) is a model student given the opportunity to give a speech about her family at the Parent's Meeting. This special chance goes awry when Lin finds out that she "shares the same secret with a mischievous classmate."

 

Wang Lu Ka is a Chinese producer and screenwriter who holds an MFA degree from the Film Program at Columbia University. She has produced multiple international short films and documentaries, and has worked as part of the programming team at Hainan Island International Film Festival. Lu Ka is devoted to making films that reveal universal but hidden truths, especially those about the confrontation between individuals and modern society. Lu Ka has recently established her own production company: Shylight Films.

Still from Hair Tie, Egg, Homework Books, produced by Jing Wang '20

The following two films were participants in the Biennale College Cinema Initiative, organized by the Biennale di Venezia, which helps emerging directors make micro-budget feature films. The films were workshopped and produced with the help of the initiative's funding and will be presented at the festival. 

 

Mon Pere, Le Diable 

Directed by Ellie Foumbi '17 

 

Mon Pere, Le Diable, which translates to "My Father, the Devil," follows an African refugee living in a small mountain village in the south of France. Her trauma is reignited when the new parish priest arrives, and she suspects that he is the warlord who slaughtered her family.  

 

Ellie Foumbi is an actor, writer, director and producer born in Cameroon. She holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University's School of the Arts. She’s a 44th Student Academy Awards Semifinalist and an African Movie Academy Awards Nominee in the Best Short Film category. Her films have been selected to screen at several international film festivals, including Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Ashland, Nantucket Film Festival, NY African Film Festival and Champs-Élysées Film Festival. She’s the recipient of the Jesse Thompkins III Award in Screenwriting and the IFP Marcie Bloom Fellowship. She is also a Film Independent Screenwriting Lab Fellow, where she workshopped her feature, Zenith, which was an Austin Screenplay Competition Semifinalist. She’s a participant of Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab. She made her TV directorial debut on BET’s hip-hop anthology, Tales and is a member of the Directors Guild of America.

Still from Mon Pere, Le Diable, directed by Ellie Foumbi '17

The Cathedral 

Directed by Ricky D'Ambrose '12

 

The Cathedral stars Brian d'Arcy, Monica Barbaro, Mark Zeisler, Geraldine Singer, and William Bednar-Carter. 

 

​​D'Ambrose is an American writer, graphic designer, and director who earned his MA in Film and Media Studies from Columbia University. His first feature film, Notes on an Appearance, the story of a young man, drifting in political circles, was made in 2017. In addition, he directed several short films such as Six Cents in the Pocket (2015), which premiered at Berlinale, and Spiral Jetty (2016), both of which embrace a fragmentary form of bricolage narrative. The Sky Is Clear and Blue Today is his sixth work. He currently lives in New York, and recently premiered his film, Object Lessonsor: What Happened Whitsunday, at the 2020 New York Film Festival. In 2017, he was one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. 

 

In the Venizia 78 Competition Category

An international competition comprising a maximum of 21 feature-length films.

 

The Card Counter 

Produced by alumnus John Foss '13

 

In this revenge thriller, an ex-military interrogator turned gambler grapples with the ghosts of his past. 


John Foss is a director, producer, and writer working with Kaleidoscope Pictures, based in the Wasatch Mountains near the Sundance Resort. His work covers a range of feature films, television, short films, and branded content. Most recently he production-supervised Martin Scorsese’s The Card Counter directed by Paul Schrader. Early in his career he worked with veteran producer Michael Hausman (Amadeus, Gangs of New York) and in development at Cinetic Media. He went on to become a production liaison on Kill Your Darlings starring Daniel Radcliffe, Chris Rock’s Top Five, and television shows for CBS, ABC and FX.

Still from The Card Counter, production-supervised by alumnus John Foss '13, image courtesy of Deadline

The Lost Daughter

Written and Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal (CC '99)

 

The Lost Daughter, based on the Elena Ferrante novel of the same name, stars Olivia Colman as Leda, a middle-aged woman who takes a vacation by the sea only to become obsessed with another woman and her daughter, "prompting memories of her own early motherhood to come back and unravel her." 

 

Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Gyllenhaal is an American actress. She is the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal (née Achs) and the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. She made her screen debut when she began to appear in her father's films. Gyllenhaal later achieved recognition in a supporting role in the indie cult hit Donnie Darko (2001). She made her breakthrough role in the 2002 sadomasochistic romance Secretary, for which she received critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination. 

Still from The Lost Daughter, by Maggie Gyllenhaal (CC '99)

About The Venice International Film Festival

 

The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world and one of the most prestigious. The Festival was organised for the first time in 1932, under the auspices of the President of the Biennale, Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, the sculptor Antonio Maraini, and Luciano De Feo and obtained a great popularity, so as to become an annual event from 1935 onwards. The Venice Film Festival is today a prestigious event that presents every year a selection of world-class films, bringing some of the most successful directors and actors of our time on the red carpet at Lido di Venezia, continuing the tradition that adds the glamour charm that always marked the Festival to a high artistic value program.