by Marzia De Giuli
VENICE, Italy, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Venice Film Festival screened on Friday its last film in competition, "Es-Stouh" (The Rooftops) directed by Algerian director Merzak Allouache, the last in a series of alarm bells for the troubled Mediterranean countries.
In the terraces of a working-class neighborhood of Algiers where families struggles to survive ruthless, violence and contradictions, five different stories take place in the span of one day.
While time is marked by the muezzin's call to prayer, a man is tortured while a little girl tries to build a relationship with her insane uncle. The owner of the building is killed after having attempted to expel a woman who is living illegally there, and a group of friends use the roof for musical rehearsals until a homosexual girl commits suicide on the adjacent terrace.
Allouache's film met with applause thanks to "the efficacy" of its choral message.
"It is incredible how he was able to depict an entire society over the course of a whole day, and without never descending the terraces," a cinema critic, Alberto Spadafora, told Xinhua.
"The story features many killings for the most different reasons, from money to revenge and love," another critic, Tiziano Vele, commented shortly after Friday's screening. "It provides an aerial view of human feelings and ends with a desire for deliverance," he added.
Allouache said in a press conference that he gave a portrait of an "ill" society whose "sense of violence can be always felt in the streets." Being himself a "witness" of the ongoing difficult times, the director said that he felt like "ringing an alarm bell" for what he experiences in everyday life.
"To me, once we show the problems it becomes something positive, it means that we have acknowledged the problem, from there we can start discussing and criticize," he added.
"Es-Stouh" was only the last in a series of competition films from Mediterranean countries that rang an alarm bell all the same. In "L'intrepido" by Italian director Gianni Amelio, a man in business capital Milan makes a living taking over the jobs of people who have to be absent.
Most offerings however portrayed a much darker picture of poverty. "Via Castellana Bandiera" by Emma Dante tells the fierce showdown between two women who refuse to give way when their cars confront each other on a narrow alley furnished with garbage, water and pieces of wood, a metaphor of recession-hit Italy "which is stuck in a quagmire, a precipice," the director said.
In deeply disturbing "Miss Violence" by Greek director Alexandros Avranas, a teenager finds the courage to reveal the terrible manipulation carried out in her family that is twisted beyond repair by poverty and the despair it spawns.
Even the social workers "have lost a little bit their humanity like a lot of people," and they just try to do their job in a bureaucratic way and little interest, the director told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Avranas added that he chose a middle class family for the story as "in the past in Greece we did not have a real middle class while recently, until the crisis started, many people from a low background began to make money. But they do not have a position and are very good to play their interests," he said.
The director said that he "decided not to deal with the economic crisis but rather to confront the crisis of values," echoing the words of the festival organizers who have often repeated that in selecting the films for this edition they were impressed by so many "dark" things, not only a matter of financial crisis but loss of a system of values that kept societies alive so far.
In its 70th year, the Venice International Film Festival is to close on Saturday assigning of the official awards. The 20-title competition section for the top Golden Lion prize is chaired by Bernardo Bertolucci, one of the most influential directors in the history of Italian and international cinema.