Since its first edition in 2001, RIFF has become an event that is followed with more and more interest by the public in Rome and a reference for worldwide filmmakers. In these years, the RIFF has received works from all the 5 continents, ending up being an attentive witness representative of the directions and passions of the independent film industry. An international vocation that has found expression in the right choice during the film selection (giving priority to national and international preview). There was, therefore, no coincidence in the fact that the feature film winners of the latest editions were foreign films. Just to mention a few of them, the North American “Self Medicated” by Monty Lapic in 2006, the Italian-American “Punk Love” by Nick Lyon in 2007 and in 2008 the Estonian “The Class” by Imar Raag.
In 2008 and 2009, two great directors, Steve McQueen, for “Hunger” (2008) and Andrea Arnold for “Fish Tank”, were awarded which engendered particular interest among critics and public. An international soul has given to the RIFF the opportunity not to focus only on a specific issue but to use the dialogue, research and film experimentation as the identity of the festival. Each anniversary brings a wealth of emotions. An emotional flow that begins with the incoming of new works to be selected (an average of more than 1000 films every year) and by meeting lot of people, actors and directors, who represent the reality of the cinema industry. However, the greatest reward are achived when the selected films at the RIFF receive awards and international success. “West Bank Story” by Ari Sandel, for example, an amazing short film which was selected in the 2005, won the Oscar for best short film in 2007. LIkewise, “Kiss by Winter” by Sara Johnsen was nominated for the Oscar in Norway. In 2005, the director of the opening film of the festival, “Omaha”, a film about the Real IRA by Pete Travis, was signed in 2008 with a stellar cast “Vantage Point”. Moreover, several scheduled short films, such as “Lotta libera” by Stefano Viali, “Aria” by Claudio Noce “Uerra” by Paolo Sassanelli, among others, have been awarded the “David di Donatello”.
Documentaries have also been worthy of attention. As a case in point, “Crude” by Joe Berlinger, who first made public the environmental disaster caused by Chevron in Ecuador, was presented at the RIFF as European premiere in 2008. Later on, he was condemned for his film, however, thanks to the international relevance of the complaint campaign launched by “Crude”, he was able to pay 9 billion dollars in compensation.
In the past ten years, the purpose of the RIFF, likewise many other Festivals in general, has been changed as shown by the evidence of its proliferation. Every cinematic genre has its own appointments, each town promotes his own event with alternate success. No criticism to localism or alarm for an inflationary effect but the the mission has been changed: from pure research or aesthetic niche, expression of specific cultural tensions, today festivals have become a new way to distribute films. Works that do not have space in the movie theater “come alive” during festivals where quality is rewarded instead of the market principals. That is the reason why in the last few years, festivals act like in a ‘‘circuit’’ refering to each other (there are over 50 of them that have been RIFF’s “friends”) and it is not uncommon to see the best films taking part to 10 or 20 festivals almost simulating the average release in a movie theater. The Riff becomes the “other cinema”, the Independent one (now more than 10 years ago), that one not throttled by monopolies, the only one who is able to give answers to the viewers “questions”. No wonder, then, if in the last edition the three films that have received the 2010 RIFF Awards have also been screened in movie theaters: “Fish Tank” by Andrea Arnold (UK), “Amore liquido” by Marco Luca Cattaneo, “18 anni dopo” by Edoardo Leo are just a few to mention.