The Taming of the Golden Lion of Venice in Prague

Prague celebrated an international premiere of the surprising Venice winner Sacro GRA with a personal presence of director Gianfranco Rosi. How does this one quickened day from the perspective of the new Golden Lion´s holder look like and how does it differ from the point of view of organizers from DAFilms team? Read in our personal reportage!

Cameraman, photographer, hotel, taxi. The same weekend mantra all over again. The nearer Monday morning, May 5, the more intrusive the list of various production items. While the hours were passing, the airplane with the latest holder of the Golden Lion of Venice on board, Gianfranco Rosi, was inevitably approaching. The destination Prague, Czechoslovak premiere of the documentary “Sacro GRA”, could not be changed, and the same went for the unique release we have been preparing for over two months. However, what is that compared to two years of making the winning film of Venice IFF?

The name ROSI in bold print, the itinerary of the Prague stay bursting at the seams with meetings with journalists and politicians, and particularly a brand new phone. On the way to Václav Havel Airport Prague, the weekend mantra has turned into an obsessive inspection of the individual items in my bag, with all joking about losing them aside now. What will he be like? Will he look like in the winning photographs? Will the accommodation be comfortable enough and the journalists prepared? The questions were spinning in our heads as fast as the wheels of ubiquitous trolley cases. However, one of them was different, original. A small black rectangle full of colourful stickers and yellow safety signs was shining among the medley of unified hard suitcases. One look at its owner and everything was clear. Gianfranco Rosi has come to Prague.

The way from Tokyo to Prague and then, after one night’s sleep, to Lugano, Switzerland; such was the schedule of Gianfranco Rosi’s third visit to Prague. The idea of crossing several time zones in several days, followed by an expectant crowd of journalists and enthusiastic audiences instead of a bed, seemed none too pleasant. However, the very opposite could be said about the very director. His humour, helpfulness and great professionalism accompanied us throughout the media and cultural marathon, with it sometimes not being clear who is the weary traveller and who is the energetic organizer of the premiere. Patient autographs for fans waiting outside the cinema, dozens of shaking hands, smiles and instructions for the opening ceremony before the premiere... Who would have imagined that after two years of getting familiar with the life along Rome’s main traffic artery, Gianfranco Rosi would spend the next two years introducing film premieres of “Sacro GRA” in the role of the first documentary filmmaker to ever tame the Golden Lion of Venice? Luckily, the daring head of the film jury, illustrious Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, was able to both imagine and push it through. Thus he has brought the intimate cinematic mosaic of fragile stories from Rome’s constantly pulsating concrete barrier to viewers across the world, activating their personal imagination while stirring their deepest emotions.

After the final credits, I have looked around the crowded hall. There were no more lists buzzing in my head; a complete calm fell over me. The calm of knowing how real life can be and how real its cinematic depiction still can be.

For the DAFilms team Andrea

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