Turin festival spotlight on helmers Aldrich, Emmer

'Flags,' 'Antoinette' in Italian kickoffs

The 24th Turin Film Festival gets under way today with a lineup that includes the in-competition international premiere of Todd Rohal's "The Guatemalan Handshake," a series of horror, western and adult genre films, and three major retrospectives, including one dedicated to director Robert Aldrich.

The nine-day festival, which runs through Nov. 18, also includes the world premiere of 17th-century period piece "Le Fiamme del Paradiso" (The Flame of Paradise) from venerable Italian director Luciano Emmer. The film, which is acted entirely in the regional Italian dialect of Trentino, is the 55th full-length feature from the 88-year-old director, who won the 1952 Golden Globe for "Pictura."

Additionally, Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" will unspool at Turin in tandem with its overall Italian bow today. The Italian premieres of Sofia Coppola's "Marie An-toinette" and Jared Hess' comedy "Nacho Libre" also will take place at the festival, and Guillermo del Toro's "El Laberitino del Fauno" (Pan's Labyrinth) will make its European premiere.

"The Guatemalan Handshake" is the only U.S.-made film in the 12-strong best film competition, which also includes Mauro Santini's "Flor da Baixa" (Flower of Baixa) and Chinese director Xia Peng's "Pleasures of Ordinary."

A total of 240 short- and full-length films and documentaries are scheduled to screen.

The Turin festival has always operated in the shadow of the older and larger Venice Film Festival. But this year, it also falls under the shadow of the big-budget, first-year RomaCinemaFest, which concluded Oct. 21.

Turin co-director Giulia D'Agnolo Vallan said that having the Rome event on the calendar did not have much of an impact on Turin — at least not this year.

"I don't know what will happen in the future, but this year, I can't think of any area where we clashed with Rome," D'Agnolo Vallan said in an interview. "We have a very specific identity and Rome still doesn't have an identity. It's too new."

Turin has traditionally focused on first, second or third efforts from directors or on new directions for established directors.

This year, many of those films are falling into specific genres, with the second edition of the "Masters of Horror" television series screening, including epi-sodes of "Family" from John Landis, "The Screwfly Solution" from Joe Dante and Dario Argento's "Pelts." The international premiere of Walter Hill's "Broken Trail," starring Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church, will highlight the festival's western films. And iconic New York-based sexploitation director Joe Sarno will be the subject of a small tribute that will include four of his films.

Other tributes and retrospectives include screenings honoring French director Claude Chabrol, Catalonian writer Joaquin Jorda and writer Piero Bargellini.

But the most important retrospective will be for Aldrich, whose 31 films include 1974's "The Longest Yard," 1955's "The Big Knife" and 1962's "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"

"Getting this Aldrich retrospective together was a real challenge because some of the master prints were lost and had to be refurbished or repaired," D'Agnolo Vallan said. "We're very proud of this work."