The Circuit of Excess: Film Industry, Taboos and Online Conversations

I have just come back from a pretty intense full immersion session in taboos, censorship and cinema hosted at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Yes, in the Czech Republic, right where Fifty Shades of Grey‘s sex symbol Jamie Dornan was presenting his latest film, Anthropoid. At this time of the year this city has a quite interesting multifaceted vibe: elderly people convene there for the thermal baths, but you can also easily party all night long or go for a stroll in the nice venues and meet iconic stars the like of Harvey Keitel and Udo Kier.

The 4th TorinoFilmLab Alumni Meeting at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

I had a very refreshing experience there, as always with the TorinoFilmLab Alumni Meetings. The topic for this year’s edition was “Provocative cinema – Addressing taboos, dealing with censors, generating debate and acting for change.” Having spent the past few months teaching a module on “Transgressive Culture” at Middlesex University, which is run by Dr Theresa Cronin at the School of Media and Performing Arts, the focus of the Meeting seemed an appropriate coincidence. So I felt I had to propose a case study focused on transgression and cinema.

Getting ready for "The Circuit of Excess: Film Industry, Taboos and Online Conversations" at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

I teamed up again with my friend and former Audience Design participant Juan Morali. This time we also had an amazing technological partner on board in the agency Sentisis, which works with big data and specialises in sentiment analysis and monitoring of online conversations in Spanish-speaking countries.

We focused on a topic that has proved a very popular theme across decades and film genres: cannibalism. We specifically analysed the buzz surrounding Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno and introduced the provisional findings of a study which considers viewers’ media habits, primary discussed assets in online conversations, preferred devices, as well as geo-localised insights on fans of the horror genre.

Final poster for Eli Roth's film "The Green Inferno".

I framed our analysis within transgression as a promotional tool involving the wider film industry: festivals, niche distributors, academic approaches and fan communities. The aim of my talk “The Circuit of Excess: Film Industry, Taboos and Online Conversations” was to address transgression as a commodity and consider censorship and taboos within cinema mainly drawing on Mikita Brottman‘s analysis of the impact and legacy of “offensive films” such as Cannibal Holocaust, Faces of Death, Snuff and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Mikita Brottman's "Offensive Films" book cover.While on 9 July I discussed Roth’s mainstream horror paying homage to the cult Italian cannibal cycle, that same day TFL Alumnus Edwin presented his personal experience with Indonesian cinema and censorship. On the 10th Azize Tan, the director of the Istanbul Film Festival, explained why last April Turkish filmmakers pulled out their films over a censorship row. Finally, documentarist Peter Kerekes introduced us to his cinematic international exploration of censors as “manual workers”. Oh, of course we had plenty of nice food and drinks too, because TFL takes great care of its Alumni.

“What Happened to Teresa?” Creativity, Business and Guitar Players. Part 2: Slash

There is little doubt that Slash has a pretty strong work ethic. Since leaving Guns N’ Roses in the mid-1990s, the iconic guitarist has collaborated with countless artists, founded (and dismantled) two bands, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver, before happily going solo.

Now that he has found an ideal creative team in singer Myles Kennedy and supporting band The Conspirators, the top-hatted guitar hero has set up a routine that seems to fit him perfectly. This includes recording an album, touring to promote it while working on new songs, going back to the studio right after to arrange and record the new material, then hitting the road again.

Slash performs at Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Despite being busy bringing his latest studio effort Apocalyptic Love to the world, Slash has already announced that he’s working on its follow-up. In the meantime he has recently released the new DVD/CD Live At The Roxy and teamed up with the International Fund for Animal Welfare to protect elephants and end the ivory trade. With such a schedule, it’s hard to believe that he could find the time to consider any other creative outlet.

Yet The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer perfectly fits my series of posts on creativity and the music business, as he is not only one of the best musicians of his generation, but also a long-time avid fan of classic horror films who started a production company himself. Focused on the genre he loves most and aptly named Slasher Films, his venture released the supernatural horror film Nothing Left to Fear in 2013 and is now developing a new project titled The Hell Within.

Poster for "Nothing Left to Fear" directed by Anthony Leonardi III

With production scheduled to begin in January 2016, what we know so far is that Slash has been mobilising his fans for the chance to win three signed Epiphone guitars and an autographed AFD Les Paul Performance Pack. The hashtags #TheHellWithin and #WhatHappenedToTeresa have been launched, while social media profiles related to the film have already been flooded by fan artwork.

Artwork for "The Hell Within"

So if you’re curious to know who Teresa is and what happened to her, all you have to do is to follow the project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join Slash in his celluloid madness.

“Marco Lusini: The Colours of the Human Soul” Opens Tomorrow at Fiumano Fine Art Gallery

What immediately strikes you while going through Italian artist Marco Lusini’s biography (1936-1989), are the many art forms he experimented with before finding his ideal medium, painting. Photography, lithography, illustration, black ink drawing, not to mention sculpture and poetry, were all fertile ground in which the Siena-born “astronaut of inner space”, as Riccardo Belloni defined him, started his exploration of the human condition. His influences are as numerous as the media he delved into, including sources such as German playwright Bertold Brecht, French poet Arthur Rimbaud, and the primitive Sicilian landscape.

Marco Lusini as photographer on location – Florence 1960s – Private Collection

In the career of an artist, when dust has settled, the time has often come to look back at the whole production with a fresh perspective. The occasion for this for Lusini is the retrospective which opens tomorrow at Fiumano Fine Art Gallery, which hopefully will be a path to a wider, international audience for his work.

Marco Lusini "Untitled" – (late 1970s) – Lithograph – 50x70cm – Private Collection

Marco Lusini: The Colours of the Human Soul is a collective effort curated by London-based filmmaker Laura D’Asta, with New Yorker art historian Gerhard Gruitrooy. As such, the exhibition is also the first organic attempt to go beyond Lusini’s best-known cycles like the Oneiric Landscapes. It aims to shed light on his wider research with a specific focus on universal themes such as loneliness and internal emotions frozen in time, represented by his iconic melancholic human figures set in dream-like worlds.

Marco Lusini, "Untitled" – from Oneiric Landscapes | Acrylic | 80 x 80 cm | 1982 | Private Collection

It’s not by chance that whole project started from the curators’ personal memories and first encounters with Lusini’s art, as The Colours of the Human Soul is explicitly “dedicated to the artist for his lasting inspiration to a younger generation and to a visionary who sincerely believed in the importance of staying true to one’s own artistic values.” The fact that this message comes from London, a city where everything seems to be possible but also stands as a burial of broken dreams, is even more fitting.

The exhibition is on display until 7th July at Fiumano Fine Art Gallery, while other artworks by Lusini will be simultaneously showcased at the American West Valley Art Museum in Peoria (US).