Talking about dreams is like talking about movies since the cinema uses the language of dreams.

Federico Fellini knew what dreams are made of when he uttered that line. And, thirteen of those dreams made it to reality at the 13th Festival del Cinema Italiano in Tokyo last April 27 to May 6. Adding a breathless potpourri of spring-powdered scents to the long Golden Week holidays, the festival drew faithful audiences to the Yurakucho Asahi Hall in Tokyo, as directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors from Italy presented their magnificent film creations. Films presented:

Il comandante e la cicogna, Silvio Soldini
È stato il figlio, Daniele Ciprì
Gli equilibristi, Ivano De Matteo
Un giorno speciale, Francesca Comencini
L'Intervallo, Leonardo Di Costanzo
Magnifica presenza, Ferzan Ozpetek
Padroni di casa, Edoardo Gabbriellini
Posti in piedi in paradiso, Carlo Verdone
Reality, Matteo Garrone: Special Program
Romanzo di una strage, Marco Tullio Giordana
Il rosso e il blu, Giuseppe Piccioni
Sulla strada di casa, Emiliano Corapi
Tutti i santi giorni, Paolo Virzì

During the opening on April 27th, six directors, Daniele Ciprì, Leonardo Di Costanzo, Ivano De Matteo, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Ferzan Ozpetek, Giuseppe Piccioni, and actor Giuseppe Battiston graced the stage to promote their masterpieces before more than 14,000 movie lovers.

Ferzan Ozpetek, one of Italy’s most prominent filmmakers, has been an avid participant at both the Festival del Cinema Italiano and Tokyo International Film Festival in Japan. In the previous years, he delighted crowds with Saturno contro, Mine vaganti, Cuore sacro, and more, and is remarkably acclaimed for his sensitive direction of La finestra di fronte starring favorites Raoul Bova and Giovanna Mezzogiorno.

This year, Ozpetek surprises the festival with the impeccable and charming wit of Magnifica presenza, a satire of mixed reality and surrealism that delves deeply into the labyrinth of human imagination. The plot evolves around the excitable Pietro, (played brilliantly by Elio Germano), a bread-maker whose perennial dream to become an actor is overshadowed by a cast of ghostly theatre players from the 1940s. whose eager souls suddenly emerge from his antiquated apartment in Rome. Man’s desperate quest to unite human qualities of forgiveness, deceit, shame, and guilt with intimacy, friendship, and love has never been so endearingly manifested than in this magical portrayal of curious characters who learn so much about the unforeseen future that they could never be part of except through the adventurous eyes of Pietro. Margaret Buy is enchanting with her surprise dance movements and straightforward delivery, as always.

Another eye-catching revelation was Il rosso e il blu, by excellent director Giuseppe Piccioni. Like Ozpetek, Piccioni has also been a frequent favorite at the film festivals in Japan, with his memorable Giulia non esce la sera, La vita che vorrei, and others. In Il rosso e il blu, we enter through a peephole of the painfully neglected Italian public school system, but without intentional focus on its political arguments, feel the endless struggle between the young, idealistic Professor Prezioso (Riccardo Scamarcio) who must reach the equilibrium of duty and compassion to rescue a delinquent student in search of herself. Simultaneously, Professor Prezioso’s avant-garde teaching methods and societal beliefs are jaded by the cynical and disenchanted Professor Fiorito (Roberto Herlitzka), who despite his mockery of the hopeful visions and righteous virtues, finds in his niche of loneliness a momentary connection with romance, self-expression and human rapport. The head mistress, Giuliana (Margherita Buy) is an excellent mediator between the two clashing professors, between youth and age, and freshness and insolence. She herself is wrapped in the envelope of empathy for a lost student who has been deprived of all facets of human bond and opportunity.

These bittersweet human dramas, intertwined in a circus of emotions and visions, make us grapple with the inevitability of human weakness and vanity that most often cripple all roads to hope. The magic of overcoming such struggles becomes a reality on screen that the Festival del Cinema Italiano creatively brings to all fervent, curious souls with a dream.