25 years on from the first Festival of African, Asian and Latin American Cinema, we are moved. We want to tell you about some moments of this adventure: the ones that made us laugh most and that moved us the most, the ones we learned from, the ones that allowed us to discover worlds and directors whose names are on everyone’s lips but were then unknown. We decided to call these good memories “I WAS THERE” and our voices are those of Annamaria Gallone and Alessandra Speciale, the two artistic directors. We invite everyone who was there, who have passed by and who crossed our paths, to join us in a collective story, perhaps the first ever by a Film Festival, by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, including “i was there” in the subject.
Marked for life by the African American adventure, in 1994 we launched “RAGE IN USA”, for the fourth African Film Festival. The African American directors brought their rage and sexual liberation, extraneous to African culture and completely new for our festival. And here we can only say that those who were they say, we cannot say any more…
The 1994 retrospective was dedicated to Egypt and brought many famous Egyptians to Milan, including Omar Sharif as President of the Jury. La retrospettiva del 1994 venne dedicata all’Egitto e portò a Milano molti egiziani famosi tra cui Omar Sharif in Giuria.
The presence of Sharif gave us some very funny stories. One is enough: Omar was invited to dinner by Egyptian friends: a rumbustious dinner which we went to, but without understanding anything of the discussions in Arabic. When we left, along the Navigli (Milan’s canals) enveloped in fog, a girl was lying on the ground, having passed out and surrounded by her worried friends.. Sherif went up to them and peremptorily announced: “If you need a doctor, I am Dr. Zhivago!” As if by magic, the girl opened her eyes and whispered: “My name is Lara!” like the heroine of the legendary film, played by Julie Christie. Then Sherif said: “When were you born? 1965?” – “No, 1966!” – “Then not on first release!” and the actor walked away in disgust.
(Alessandra Speciale e Annamaria Gallone)