The setting: a train traveling through Italy, en route to Rome. This is essentially all that links the three stories of Tickets, apart from the extraordinary talent of the directing trio Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami, and Ken Loach. It is a fascinating opportunity to see how these master filmmakers diverge in their camera style, tone, and thematic interests. Following Olmi's original idea, each worked separately on his own story. Olmi's concern with warfare in his two most recent films, The Profession of Arms and Singing Behind Screens, reappears in the guise of grotesque military checks on the international train carrying an elderly biochemist (Carlo Delle Piane) home from a meeting in Germany, where an attractive woman (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) has inflamed his romantic fantasies. In the second episode directed by Kiarostami, Filippo (Filippo Trojano) has been saddled with the unenviable task of escorting an exasperating older woman (Silvana De Santis, a professional stage actress) to a memorial service. Kiarostami exhibits his famed naturalism with the nonprofessional members of his all-Italian cast, demonstrating that the Iranian technique of improvising with nonpro actors can yield astounding results in any language. Ken Loach concludes the film with a skit about three loudmouth Scottish boys and a stolen train ticket. The Glasgow Celtic fans have pooled their savings to attend a Champions League game in Rome, but on the train they are suddenly faced with a giant dilemma: jail, or a showdown with a poor family of Albanian immigrants. The story's rambunctious, warm humor makes an exhilarating ending to the film.
Ermanno Olmi has garnered numerous awards, including the Cannes Film Festival's Palme D'or for The Tree of Wooden Clogs, and the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion for The Legend of the Holy Drinker. His Singing Behind Screens is a Special Screening attraction at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Abbas kiarostami has emerged as one of the most influential Iranian filmmakers in the international film community. His awards include the Cannes Film Festival's Roberto Rossellini Award for career achievement in 1992, a Palme d'Or from the festival in 1997 for Taste of Cherry and the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion for 1999's The Wind Will Carry Us. After a brief spell as an actor, the BBC recruited Ken Loach in 1963 as a television director trainee. His long career directing features and documentaries for both television and the cinema spans the 1960s, with Cathy Come Home and Kes, through the films Land and Freedom and Sweet Sixteen in recent years.