Consider the [herd of] cattle, grazing as they pass you by: they do not know what is meant
by yesterday or today, they leap about, eat, rest, digest, leap about again. – F. Nietzsche
Maybe we, from Corto e Fieno, are also a herd.
Of course, we are a film festival, but a rather curious festival, founded in 2010 based on a simple idea: to bring the countryside, rurality, meadows, woods, waters, animals, women and men to the screen. Corto e Fieno is, proudly, a rural film festival. And what does a rural film festival do? It creates a space in which to see and discuss films that tell of the relationship between man and the countryside. It addresses the subject of rurality today, in Italy and around the world. It reflects on the importance of the land: on the importance of being close to it.
The course taken by Corto e Fieno cannot be harnessed, it grazes and jumps like Nietzsche’s herd. As one might say in a western movie, it is a maverick, a wild horse that runs free, escapes and runs away when you think you have caught it. The films featured at the festival have opened paths for reflection and provided multiple visions of the world. In recent years the festival has presented many, many directors, many faces. We scroll through frames and photographs: we have grown up with this festival, we have seen it become great, we have grown it; us, the films, the audience. And we have managed to maintain the naivety and curiosity that are essential in making things happen, in sowing ideas, in seeing shoots appear.
Believe it or not, directors have flown from as far as Vladivostok and Bariloche in Patagonia to be with us. One director shot scenes for his new film while staying at the convent here in Ameno. Another brought us a bottle of wine produced at the family vineyard featured in his short film. We have hosted directors who got lost in the hills of Lake Orta without a mobile phone and could not be found, rural castaways. One whose car radiator was damaged following the trip to reach us and who met the town mechanic. One who called us a “rural island in a sea of festivals”. And a Chinese director living in France, nominated for an Oscar for best short documentary, who wrote to tell us that: This film has participated in numerous international film festivals. But I think your Rural Film Festival is particularly special. I am thrilled to know that in this world there is a film festival dedicated exclusively to the rural world. In every country and in every place on our planet, agriculture is the foundation for the survival of human societies; cities respond to and depend on rural areas. Thank you for inviting my film, thank you for giving attention to films about these subjects.
There are also those who were amazed by our very existence, such as a well-known newspaper that, in an article on the launch of the Venice Film Festival, commented: There are many types of festival, more or less for every form of art, be it music, performance, theatre, publishing, comics, vegan food… And then there are film festivals, which are a whole different category. They cover a diverse variety of themes: from simple thematic, geographical or genre-based exhibitions to more general festivals, including initiatives so niche that one wonders how they can actually exist – such as Corto e Fieno, the festival of rural cinema.
Corto e Fieno was founded and has evolved thanks to the strong roots of the tree that generated it; that inexhaustible source of energy and lifeblood that is Asilo Bianco. If it is really true that the meaning of our lives lies in the things we do, the choices we make, the roads we travel, then we are fortunate to be aware that we are doing something important. Because Corto e Fieno is above all this: a continuous work of research and reflection. Of our growth and our audience. We are Corto e Fieno, a festival created by people for people, but also a bustle of stories: those we see on the screen and those written every year during the festival, in that magical atmosphere around Lake Orta, in villas, stables, granaries, barns, riding stables, cinemas and theatres. Over the years we have organized screenings almost everywhere.
So let there be 100 more of these editions of Corto e Fieno. May the festival continue to bring quality cinema here to Lake Orta: films that are presented at prestigious international festivals, invisible films, films often shown in Italy for the first time but also, equally often, for the first time in Piedmont (and Piedmont knows about cinema…). And 1000 of these excursions of ours because, over the years, Corto e Fieno has also moved “off-site”, invited here and there around Italy, from north to south, and has taken films and directors on tour not only to cinemas, but also, as ever, among the animals, cows, sheep, goats, horses, to the sheds of local cheese, salami, honey, onion, egg, yogurt, butter producers…
So, hurray for Corto e Fieno: long may you continue to surprise and enlighten us lucky audiences. The opportunity to work towards a dream and maintain the tenacity to make it come true every year.