Capturing teenage angst and emotional uncertainties with aplomb, this under-the-radar Italian LGBT film is easy-going and will appeal to the wider audience.
Dir. Margherita Ferri
2018 | Italy | Drama | 87 mins | 1.85:1 | Italian
M18 (passed clean) for mature content
Cast: Susanna Acchiardi, Eleonora Conti, Edoardo Lomazz
Plot: Maia’s the only girl in the local ice hockey team and she is constantly bullied by her teammates for her masculine attitude. When Vanessa runs away from home and hides in Maia’s family lodge, Maia feels the freedom to trust someone for the first time.
Awards: Nom. for Queer Lion (Venice)
International Sales: Media Luna
Subject Matter: Slightly Mature
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
(Reviewed on screener for Love & Pride Film Festival 2019)
An under-the-radar LGBT movie that deserves more attention, Zen in the Ice Rift is an easy-going film that is so well-paced that before you know it, you are in the final lap.
It stars Eleonora Conti as Maia Zenardi, a girl who dresses like a tomboy, where her masculine nature and attitude belie an emotionally fractured persona, and despite being the only girl in the local all-boys’ ice hockey team, it affords her as much confidence as it is consternation.
Conti’s performance gives us someone to identify with and root for, and perhaps this is what Vanessa (Susanna Acchiardi), a fellow acquaintance, sees in her character as well, striking an intimate relationship.
Writer-director Margherita Ferri captures teenage angst and emotional uncertainties with aplomb in her first fiction feature, which competed for the Queer Lion at Venice.
The use of music is somewhat unconventional, where the classically-inflected original score works best as the camera trains its eye on Maia’s grace and beauty on the ice rink, as well as the symbolic juxtapositions between her emotional state and aerial shots of melting/cracking icecaps.
While Zen doesn’t quite push the boundaries for LGBT storytelling in any way that might interest a more adventurous moviegoer, it will certainly appeal to the wider audience, and this is the film’s strongest selling point. Plus, the landscape at the top of the Italian Apennines is breathtaking to behold.