The opening sequence of Facing Window (La Finestra Di Fronte) deals with the plight of two gay lovers in 1943 when the Nazis were rounding up Roman Jews to send them to concentration camps. Six decades later, one of the men (Massimo Girotti’s final performance -“ he died last year) encounters a housewife (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) facing a crossroads in her marriage. Will she give in to her obsession with the handsome man she watches in the window opposite her apartment?

Facing Window is 45-year-old Turkish-born Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek’s latest and most successful film to date. It has won many awards around the world as well as five Italian Donatellos, including Best Film, Best Actress for Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Best Actor for Italian veteran Massimo Girotti. Ozpetek will be familiar to Star readers as nearly all of his films have had gay characters and themes.

Facing Window screened to great acclaim at last year’s Italian Film Festival in Sydney. It is outstanding, complex storytelling using flashbacks to examine lost love in a context not often explored on the big screen. Ozpetek usually has strong roles for women in his films and Facing Window, in which he casts Mezzogiorno as a foil to the character played by Girotti, is no exception.

Ozpetek moved to Rome to study when he was 20 and began his cinema career in 1982 as an assistant director on Italian films. He made his feature directorial debut in 1997 with The Turkish Bath (Hamam), which screened in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, and although his second feature Harem Suar?i> (1999) also screened at Cannes, it was released straight to video.

Ignorant Fairies (2001) was nominated for a Golden Bear at Berlin and went on to win awards at several gay and lesbian film festivals around the world, including Best Feature at the 2002 New York festival. Both The Turkish Bath, which was a highlight at a Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival a few years ago, and Ignorant Fairies have been shown several times on SBS.

Gentle and funny at times, Facing Window is not to be missed, but don’t forget to take the tissues.

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