Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Italian Film Comes to SF,
Subtitles Not Included

This attractive young Italian man is Valerio Mieli, and he's directed his first film, called "Ten Winters." It is part of the San Francisco Film Society's annual fall survey of recent Italian cinema, and I wanted to catch Mieli's film last night at the Embarcadero Cinema.

When I got to the theatre, the seats were almost filled to capacity, but I was lucky to snag a seat on the aisle. The film society's director programming, Rachel Rosen, made some introductory remarks about the short preceding the feature, before handing the mic over to Mieli.

He had an abundance of charm, warmed up the crowd with his slightly mangled English, and he laughed at his own grammatical errors. The audience was primed to like his film, but there was one big problem for those of us present who didn't speak Italian. The print lacked subtitles.

A few minutes into the opening credits, someone cried out, "Subtitles!" As if all it would take to make them appear was throwing a switch. The film stopped, the lights came up and Rosen was back at the mic, explaining that they received the wrong print from the Italian distributor and that the film society was sorry for the mishap.

Rosen said the film would still be shown, for all of the Italians in the audience, who applauded at the announcement. Everyone else would get a refund, and most of us soon exited for the lobby, including the director.

I spoke with him, asking how he felt about the technical problem. Mieli said it was out of his control and such was life, while he did the Mediterranean shrug, which involves thrusting the shoulders up, frowning and rolling the eyes. He impressed me with his laid back attitude and I promised to blog on his travails, as I snapped photos of him.

Judging the look of the opening scenes, Mieli's film was certainly worth looking at, and I hope it comes back for a showing or two in San Francisco because I want to see all of it, with subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

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