Ferzan Ozpetek’s Facing Windows is a stirring example of a contemporary Italian film exploring the legacy of fascism. This award-winning drama (four Donatello Awards, the Italian Oscar equivalent) features dual love stories, one from the 1940s between two Italian Jews and one contemporary story of neighbors who watch each other furtively from facing windows across a street. The sexual tension between a sexy but routine-weary woman (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) and her hunky Italian Clark Kent look-alike neighbor (Raoul Bova) gives way to quiet communication and a profound experience when together they befriend an elderly Jewish man with memory problems. Davide (played to perfection by veteran Italian actor Massimo Girotti) turns out to be a master baker, a metaphor for the alchemy of creation not lost on Giovanna, who bakes to supplement her income working in a factory. Davide lived through the October 16, 1943, roundup of Jews in the Rome ghetto and the subsequent deportation and loss of his family and his lover. Ozpetek, an accomplished director, captures the weight of a lifetime of memories as well as the quotidian intimacy and brief exchanges that really make up our lives. His dual cultural background (Turkish and Italian) gives him both an outsider’s and insider’s perspective on how the history of fascism impacts Italians today: perhaps not very much on the surface, but lurking metaphysically in the crevices of their consciousness and in the piazze—which in their mute inertia do not miss the Jews who were deported but witnessed their leaving.
From 2008 Festival: Director, Italy
Ferzan Ozpetek (director/screenwriter) was born in Istanbul and moved to Italy
in 1978 to study at La Sapienza University in Rome. He worked for a time with
Julian Beck and the Living Theatre, and started his cinema career as an assistant
director on Italian films, notably with director, Maurizio Ponzi. He made his
feature directorial debut with “Hamam” (1997) and followed that with “Harem
Suaré” (1999). His next film, “Le Fate Ignoranti (His Secret Life)” (2001),
garnered notice on the international film scene, winning the award for Best
Feature at the 2002 New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. FACING
WINDOWS won the David Award for Best Film, and Ozpetek was awarded the
Scholars Jury Award for his direction. Ozpetek also won awards from the Italian
National Syndicate of Film Journalists (Best Original Story, with Gianni Romoli)
and the Karlovy Very International Film Festival in the Czech Republic (Best
Director, Crystal Globe).