Italian cinema has shown its vitality at the Cannes Film Festival, with three different generations of filmmakers in the race for the Palme d'Or to be decided on Saturday.
Alice Rohrwacher, 41, represents the new guard with her third film ‘La Chimera’ that premiered Friday, a comic tale of corruption that also explores deeper themes.
"I wanted to make a film about connections... I show these links and explore important issues like death and the afterlife but in the lightest, most fun and stupid way possible," she told AFP.
Rohrwacher's film evokes classic Italian cinema but also points to its future, said star Isabella Rossellini -- the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini -- who plays a key role in the movie.
"Stylistically Alice is so linked to the Italian cinema... and yet she takes it a step further and that's maybe why we can follow her story," the 70-year-old legend told AFP.
"She doesn't use a language that is unfamiliar and yet the characters (are from) a new Italy with all these people speaking different languages living together, migrants."
Earlier this week saw the premieres of the other Italians in competition: 83-year-old Marco Bellocchio's Vatican period drama ‘Kidnapped’ and arthouse favourite Nanni Moretti, 69, with his burlesque ‘A Brighter Tomorrow’.
"They all told me, 'be free, look with your own eyes'," Rohrwacher said of advice she received from her compatriots.
Rohrwacher, who comes from a family of beekeepers in Tuscany, won the runner-up Grand Prix in Cannes for her debut ‘The Wonders’ in 2014 and best screenplay for ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ in 2018.
Her short, ‘The Pupils’ was up for an Oscar earlier this year.
She also directed some episodes of the hit series on Netflix, ‘My Brilliant Friend’.
Early reviews of Bellocchio's period drama have been positive while Moretti, a previous Palme winner, seems to have delivered more of a dud this time.
The intertwining themes in ‘La Chimera’ have provoked an array of early reactions from viewers -- a response Rohrwacher said she intended.
"Everyone sees the level they choose but they all exist," she said.
Rohrwacher is one of an unprecedented seven women in competition for the Palme d'Or this year and the festival has seen many films exploring issues via the female gaze.
"I have always wondered if there is a woman's language in film but I think it's a bit more like a choir -- there is family, children, grandchildren," said Rossellini.
"It is not a competition," Rohrwacher said, "women tell stories in a different way because they are used to using a lot of threads at the same time and putting them together to make a carpet, clothes, to create things.
"I really think we have this in our DNA."