Likely the most pioneering entry in this year’s competition, Italian production Leonora Addio is a collage of different forms of filmic storytelling. All fragments revolve around Luigi Pirandello, or more specifically his legacy. First, the viewer is presented archive footage of the Sicilian writer being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His passing is depicted in an experimental scene: an old man on his death bed surrounded by his children, who rapidly grow in age.
On-screen text provides information about Pirandello’s funeral wishes, but the transferral of his cremated remains to Sicily could not be fulfilled – in 1936, Italy had different things to worry about. We see images from Michelangelo Antonioni’s films.
Then the main narrative sets it, in which Pirandello’s ashes are removed from his temporary tomb in Rome. In a vase that is transported in a wooden box, they are to be brought to Sicily, but the trip is complicated. The creation of the memorial to hold the urn delays proceedings even further. By bringing his words to life, an author lives on, so the film concludes with a dramatisation of the last play Pirandello wrote. The Nail is a tale about an Italian boy in Brooklyn, who killed a girl.
It is director Paolo Taviani’s first feature since his brother’s death, with whom he had previously collaborated on in each of his films. Perhaps it is this proximity to loss that gives the 90-year-old such a unique perspective on honouring not only a creator but their creative influence.
Predominantly shot in black-and-white, the film’s visuals are quiet and poetic, reminiscent of the neorealism that shaped much of Italy’s cinema.
Ten years after his film Caesar Must Die won at the 62nd Berlinale, Taviani is the most likely candidate to take home another Golden Bear.
Leonora Addio does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.