An interview with Giovanni Minerba, president of the Lovers Film Festival
Text by: Maria Guidone

33° Lovers Film Festival – Torino LGBTQI Visions, the oldest LGBTQI-themed festival in Europe was created in 1981 by Ottavio Mai and Giovanni Minerba (who is currently its president). They wanted to oppose and react to a certain kind of cinema which makes use of the homosexual “character” in secondary roles. Following the San Francisco example, they  gave life to the International Film Festival with Homosexual Topics “From Sodom to Hollywood”, which since 2017 was renamed as LOVERS with its new director Irene Dionisio. In Italy, we have Ottavio and Giovanni to thank for the discovery of Gus Van Sant (they brought here Mala Noche as well), Gregg Araki, Ken Russell…We had the pleasure of meeting Giovanni for an exclusive chat for DRY. 

This year there is a new section, “Five Easy Pieces – Carte Blanche”, your personal selection..How did you make this selection?
Yes, we have received many films for our selection, but it wasn’t hard to select mine. I thought about the people who loved our festival for years, starting from the huge audience who always followed us. These “five pieces” are dedicated to them, hoping that they will appreciate them as much as I did. The first shown at the screenplay is called  Ma vie aver James DeanIt was wonderful to see this film among the others who applied for the selection, I really loved it. It is not so easy to explain the reason, though. Had it been titled differently, I would have certainly loved it anyway. But my curiosity was triggered by the fact that twenty-six years ago Ottavio Mai and I wrote a film, which we were about to make happen, entitled He resembled James Dean. Of course the story was different from this film by Dominique Choisy, it is almost like a drama by Jean Genet; however, both stories are bizarre and ironic, they are about beauty, love and a big cinema icon. I loved Ma vie avec James Dean because it is first and foremost a homage to those who love cinema and try to make it at any cost.

Another beautiful film from this festival is Brazilian Gloria and Grace, by Flávio R. Tambellini. One of the actresses, the one who plays the trans, is really spectacular. When I first saw the film I thought that she really was a trans, then I spent half of my day googling her, and it turned out that she’s just an incredible actress, who really managed to deal with the character. Now in America there’s this film out, with a trans character as well (and besides there was this controversy about the actor, about the fact that he’s not a trans… why would you have to be a trans in order to play one?)  Anyway, this controversy is really sterile in my view, and the film is very Hollywood-style. This Brazilian film, on the other hand, has something crazy going on: there is such a good work with the actors and on the actors, that is really where the true sense of cinema lies for me.  For example, Guadagnino’s work in Italy has a deep meaning because of that. I really enjoyed his latest film: the work he carried out with the protagonist is stunning.

What are the ties between Guardagnino and this festival?
He was part of the jury 12 years ago before making I am love. He met Barbara Alberti here, she’s his screenwriter, and it’s something he likes to remember in public. I’m always glad that Luca is so tied to our festival.

How did LGBT cinema change from its origins till now? What are the new goals of a festival like yours?
Those poor things we did, Ottavio and I, which Barbara compared to Robert Guédiguian, derived from a genuine desire to recount reality. I was one of the actors, the other actors were all our friends, many non-professionals. We just wanted to tell stories, to create characters. I see work with reality and actors as a fundamental part of this job, it just can’t be different. This is what we lost. Directors who worked on the territory, who worked with reality. Now films may be more beautiful, but that kind of emotion was lost. The beginning was the time for research about LGBT representation. Now it is time for self-celebration. And… I don’t like that! Even if we want to represent ourselves, we no longer know how to face the problems that actually exist in our society. We just want to celebrate! And this is when we lose the power to represent ourselves. But we must not stop! Whatever happens, we should never stop!