The very first edition of the Torino Film Festival is held in 1982. Back then, it is known as the Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani and its mission is to attract a vast audience to explore the themes of young people’s cinematography. Right from the start, the festival takes its place in the ranks of “New Cinema;” not by chance, its objective of probing the young generation’s universe through the cinematographic language is combined with a series of critical surveys of the cinema of the 1960s. Thus, year after year, a festival is created which concentrates on innovative, marginal and experimental forms of international cinema: a “young” cinema that revolves around a type of linguistic renewal which stands in contrast to the consolidated forms of filmmaking. As a result, right from its first edition, the festival decides to welcome the vast range of new expressive means represented by the electronic image. The festival also responds to the needs of young filmmakers and video makers, providing an established space in which they can screen their works and through which they may enjoy a direct and reactive relationship with the public.
Italy’s first metropolitan festival, the TFF creates a strong tie with its public from the start, as it consistently increases the complexity of its film proposals, bringing together in its programming art house genre films, experimental research and the rediscovery of the great, forgotten classics. Through its increasingly articulated program and the constant reshuffling of its schemas, and thanks to the proposal of Italian cinematographies that are yet unexplored and filmmakers who are unknown or neglected in Italy, the festival is able to offer to its public precise and invaluable indications to help them develop a critical awareness of cinema as a cultural phenomenon, an artistic expression and a means of mass communication.
After a few years, the festival establishes its first competitive sections: the International Feature Film Competition, which is dedicated to first or second films and which has awarded the early efforts of filmmakers such as Hou Hsiao-hsien, Chen Kaige, Amos Gitai, Tsai Ming-liang, David Gordon Green and Lisandro Alonso; and the Open Space Competition, which screens works without any distinction as to length or genre and which has seen the debut of important Italian filmmakers such as Mimmo Calopresti, Daniele Gaglianone and Matteo Garrone. Open Space, in turn, is followed by the Italian Competition (dedicated to Italian shorts and medium-length films) and the Regional Competition. Starting in 1995, the festival also gives the Cipputi Award to the best film about the work world. In 2000, the Italian Documentary Competition is created; still today it is the most prestigious award dedicated to Italian documentary productions and has seen the participation of famous directors such as Guido Chiesa, Gianfranco Pannone and Stefano Consiglio. The Documentary Competition, besides having discovered young authors over the years, has also played a determining role in supporting the revival of interest in Italian documentaries, a genre which was greatly neglected during the 1980s and ‘90s despite its historical roots, and which is now once again vital and innovative.
Over the years, the festival gains a solid and acknowledged international reputation. In 1997 it changes its name to the Torino Film Festival, the definitive confirmation of the ambitions of an event which today moves confidently within the context of major international festivals. Its choices often anticipate the discovery of filmmakers who, thanks to the efforts of the festival and the passionate participation of its public, find the strong motivation and the recognition they need in order to successfully continue their work.
During the past five editions of the festival, under the direction of Nanni Moretti (2007-2008) and Gianni Amelio (2009-2010-2011), the Torino Film Festival has hosted filmmakers of the caliber of Francis Ford Coppola, Wim Wenders, Roman Polanski, Oliver Stone, Emir Kusturica and John Boorman.