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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Silvio Muccino's "Le leggi del desiderio" in Italian Theaters Today

“We were writing a romantic comedy, but I missed the link with the present. I found it thanks to the Internet: that’s where I found the American life coach Anthony Robbins’ videos. He was someone who had never been portrayed in our cinema. But where does the mask end and the man begin?” This is what Silvio Muccino wonders in his new movie Le leggi del desiderio (lit. The Law of Desire), written (with Carla Vangelista), directed by and starring him as the motivational trainer Giovanni Canton, alongside Nicole Grimaudo, Carla Signoris and Maurizio Mattioli (read the news). Muccino jr’s third movie as a director (another upcoming release is the new movie by his brother Gabriele, Fathers and Daughters) starts in fact as an exploration of a modern trend (“The life coach tells you how to dress, what to eat, what to buy. In times of crisis, people need someone to show them the way. They used to be called Shamans, today their realm is the internet”) and evolves like a classic romantic comedy, complete with “ugly ducklings” becoming swans and salvation from a cynical life through love, because “behind every superhero mask, emotions are what really count”.

Italian Indie Sensation -Levante- Announces US Debut

Italy, Summer '13 and the country's airwaves are dominated by the sound of an indie-pop anthem from an unsuspecting rising star.  The song "Alfonso" by Levante, a 26 year old singer-songwriter still working as a café barista, has unintentionally tapped into the mood not only of her own generation, but of a nation in crisis and understandably unenthusiastic about the typical Latin-Dance beach fare on offer.  The video, which features the artist as a frustrated protagonist in a high-fashion party shouting out the song's hook Che vita di merda, becomes a YouTube sensation in Italy approaching 2 million views — numbers typically unrealized by all but homegrown superstars — and becomes a powerful social media meme.  Levante's debut album "Manuale Distruzione" (Destruction Manual) enters in the Top 10 of the Italian charts in March 2014 and within one year the indie sensation is supporting headlining heroes Negramaro on their summer soccer stadium tour. 

Born Claudia Lagona, Levante's spends her time between Italy's two hottest music scenes in Catania and Torino. Turning to songwriting as a teenager to ease the pain of her father's death and her family's relocation from Sicily to the industrial North, Levante found solace in a range of female muses from fellow Sicilian singer-songwriter Carmen Consoli to all-time Italian diva Mina, alongside revered American artists Tori Amos and Janis Joplin. After a stint in Leeds to develop her English writing style, Levante returned to Turin shifting back to the Italian language with a fully mature sound featuring direct lyrics of everyday life — love, pain, friendship, joy —  and signing to leading independent INRI label which is based in the city.  

Like a hot wind blowing in from the east, Levante will make her US debut at SXSW, the world's leading music industry event, taking place March 17 – 21, 2015 in Austin, TX.  Showcase dates follow on Monday March 23 in Los Angeles at Genghis Cohen, the storied Hollywood hotspot which launched the careers of singer-songwriters such as Sara Bareilles, and on Wednesday March 25 at The Standard, East Village in New York.  Levante's StandardSounds appearance is part of the Annie O Music Series which has previously featured acts from the New York and international music scenes such as Moby, Joan as Police Woman and Jovanotti.

LEVANTE - Alfonso (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
http://youtu.be/jIQdHRs0EeI

Album Stream MANUALE DISTRUZIONE:
https://soundcloud.com/metatrongroup/sets/levante/s-JiWqc

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Galleria Marconi di Cupra Marittima presenta Equilibrismi


Equilibrismi - cura e testo- Dario Ciferri

L'inaugurazione è sabato 28 febbraio alle 18 presso la Galleria Marconi
INGRESSO LIBERO
La mostra termina il 26 marzo

(See English version below)

Alla Galleria Marconi di Cupra Marittima la rassegna Avere vent’anni arriva al suo terzo appuntamento. Sabato 28 febbraio alle 18 sarà inaugurata Equilibrismi, mostra personale di Franco Anzelmo. La mostra, organizzata dalla Galleria Marconie da Marche Centro d’Arte, è a cura di Dario Ciferri, che è anche autore del testo critico.

La Galleria Marconi si trova in c.so Vittorio Emanuele II n°70 a Cupra Marittima. La personale di Franco Anzelmo potrà essere visitata fino al 26 marzo 2014 con i seguenti orari: lunedì – sabato 16.30 - 19.30.

Equilibrismi è il terzo appuntamento del ciclo di mostre Avere vent’anni che accompagnerà la Galleria Marconi per tutta la stagione espositiva 2014/2015.

“Come fossero su un filo ideale le figure di Franco Anzelmo si concentrano su delicati equilibrismi, fisici, psicologici e/o ideali. Sospese e sorprese in un attimo di stupore, di osservazione o di ricerca, si reggono sul delicato equilibrio tra esterno ed interno, tra terra e cielo, in un percorso complesso ma suggestivo. La ricerca di un baricentro sembra essere l’interesse di Anzelmo nel tentativo di raccontare l’uomo e le sue infinite declinazioni. Gli equilibrismi insomma catturano lo sguardo e lo portano in una dimensione di stupore, dove poesia e riflessione si incontrano e dialogano al di sopra della materia ma con la forza della materia.

È una ricerca estetica che non si limita a mostrare l’umanità ma si addentra nell’interiorità, la scava, la descrive, la mette a nudo. E forse è proprio per questo motivo che le sue opere sono dei nudi, perché dell’essere umano sanno cogliere il lato più intimo, più delicato, più fragile. La nudità testimonia tutta l’innocenza dell’uomo quella che vorremmo vedere, che sappiamo esistere dentro noi, che sarebbe bello sapessimo manifestare.” (Dario Ciferri)

Cosa vuol dire avere vent’anni? In qualche modo rappresenta l’incontro tra i sogni e le nuove prospettive, aspettative che si aprono, nuove direzioni che si prendono, eppure è il momento nella vita in cui ci si imbatte nelle vere responsabilità, nel dolore. È la crescita con uno sguardo al passato e l’occhio al futuro. Ancora una volta la Galleria Marconi prova a parlare di arte, cercando di rinnovarsi e di innovare ma con la responsabilità di sapere dove si trova e su quali basi deve continuare a crescere. Arrivare a vent’anni non è poco e non è facile, eppure è un punto fondamentale per continuare a crescere con i propri sogni e al di là delle illusioni. (http://youtu.be/Nvvu9fN9qeE)

-English-
The third installment of the art expositions, Being twenty at Marconi Gallery of Cupra Marittima -
Saturday 28th February at 6 p.m. Opening of Acrobatics sole exhibition by Franco Anzelmo.The exposition is organized by Marconi Gallery and Marche Centro d'Arte, it is cured by Dario Ciferri, also author of the critical text.

Marconi Gallery is located at 70, C.so Vittorio Emanuele II Cupra Marittima. The Franco Anzelmo exposition can be visited as follows: 
Mon-Sat 4:30-7:30 p.m. till 26th March 2015.

Acrobatics is the third appointment of the series of exhibitions Being Twenty which will continue at Marconi Gallery through the entire 2014-2015 exposition season.

“Franco Anzelmo figures are concentrated on a delicate, physical, psychological and or ideal acrobatics. Suspended and surprised in a moment of amazement, observation or research, they stand with the delicate balance between outside and inside, between earth and sky, in a complex but fascinating path. Anzelmo seems to be interested in the  research of a centre of gravity trying to tell the man and his variations. Acrobatics so catch the eye and take it to a dimension of wonder, where poetry and reflection meet and talk together above the material but with the strenght of the material. 

It's an aesthetic research which doesn't limit itself in showing humanitry but goes deeper to the inwardness, digging, describing, laying bare it. It's perhaps for this reason that his works are nudes, because they can grasp the most intimate, delicate and fragile side of the human being. Nudity testifies all the innocence of man, the one we would like to see, which we know it exists inside ourselves and it would be nice we could manifest”. (Dario Ciferri)

What does "Being Twenty" mean? 
It's in a way the meeting between dreams and new perspectives, expectations that open, new directions you take, yet it's the time of life in which we encounter the real responsabilities and sorrow. It is the growth with a look to the past and an eye to the future, Once again Marconi Gallery tries to talk about art, trying to renew and innovate but with the responsability to know where it is and on what basis it should continue to grow. Reaching twenty isn't a small task and it isn't easy, yet it is a key point to continue to grow with one's dreams beyond the illusions. (http://youtu.be/Nvvu9fN9qeE)
  
Curated by Dario Ciferri
Translation by Patrizia Isidori
Relazioni esterne e promozione delle attività/ external relationship and promotion of activities Nikla Cingolani
Fotografia/photography Stefano Capocasa
Riprese video/video shooting Stefano Abbadini
Allestimenti/preparation Andrea Fontana

orario: lunedì-sabato dalle 16 alle 19.30
opening time: Mon-Sat 4 to 7.30 p.m.

Con il supporto di Ostello degli Artisti:http://www.appartamenti-cupramarittima.com

info
Galleria Marconi di Franco Marconi

"DIVA - L’amore va in scena" al Teatro della Luna di Milano


Opera originale scritta e diretta da Renato Giordano, DIVA - L’amore va in scena debutta in prima assoluta giovedì 26 febbraio alle 21.00 al Teatro della Luna di Milano con Lorenza Mario e Max Cavallari e con Francesco Capodacqua, con canzoni originali di Vincenzo Incenzo. Sarà in scena fino all’8 marzo a Milano e dal 17 al 22 marzo al Teatro Alfieri di Torino.

Lo spettacolo racconta una storia moderna che tra battute, musica e coreografie, con l’ironia e il sentimento tipici della commedia italiana, affronta temi di scottante attualità come il riconoscimento di famiglie “allargate” omosessuali e non, l’adozione da parte di gay e il concetto di diversità come valore.

In due atti di un’ora ciascuno, interpretata da una splendida e ambigua Lorenza Mario, un inedito Max Cavallari, grillo parlante sotto vere spoglie di gay tutte piume e paiette, Francesco Capodacqua, dolce e inquieto, DIVA - L’amore va in scena si presenta dunque come una commedia musicale capace di far ridere e riflettere allo stesso tempo, parlando al pubblico con il linguaggio della modernità.

Accanto ai protagonisti, personaggi come Principessa Clotilde/Tia Archito, Ugo De Carolis/Roberto D’Alessandro, Filippa/Caterina Gramaglia, Cristian/Fausto Verginelli, Sara/Laura Fiorini, Adrian/Antonio Caggianelli e la piccola Alice/Margherita Rebeggiani, per un cast complessivo di sedici artisti presenti in scena.

Renato Giordano è autore, regista e produttore dello spettacolo. Con una formazione musicale e teatrale, una regia cinematografica al suo attivo, Giordano si cimenta per la prima volta con la commedia musicale. 

Vincenzo Incenzo firma le canzoni originali. Scrittore e paroliere, ha creato per quest’opera testi romantici e popolari, che toccano temi delicati come l’adozione, la genitorialità e l’identità di genere.

Le coreografie sono curate da Stefano Bontempi con un gruppo di sette ballerini. I costumi sono realizzati da Lucia Mariani, la scenografia è di Matteo Soltanto.

Per maggiori informazioni
Sito ufficiale: divailmusical.it
Pagina Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diva.lamorevainscena

Promozioni ‘Amici di Facebook’
Chi si presenterà al botteghino con la stampa dell’home page di Facebook ‘DIVA l’amore va in scena’ dopo aver cliccato 'Mi Piace' potrà acquistare il biglietto a soli 12 euro. 

Fantastic Nominees for Nastro d'Argento Documentary Award

Pannone and Zoratti are in the running for the SNGCI’s prize, while the Nastri of the Year for Documentaries go to Salvatores, Amelio and Veltroni; the trophies are handed out on 3 March.

The SNGCI (National Union of Italian Film Journalists) has announced the five lucky hopefuls for the 2015 Nastro d’Argento Award for Best Documentary. In this category revolving around cinéma vérité, the following titles will be duking it out at this year’s edition: Come il peso dell’acqua by Andrea Segre, La zuppa del demonio by Davide Ferrario, On the Volcano by Gianfranco Pannone, The Special Need by Carlo Zoratti and Triangle by Costanza Quatriglio.

On the other hand, fighting it out for Best Documentary on Cinema and Entertainment are: Giulio Andreotti. Il cinema visto da vicino by Tatti Sanguineti, Nessuno siamo perfetti by Giancarlo Soldi, Gian Luigi Rondi Vita, cinema, passione by Giorgio Treves, Poltrone rosse: Parma e il cinema by Francesco Barilli and Senza Lucio by Mario Sesti.
 
The awards will be handed out in Rome on 3 March, at the Casa del Cinema. In the course of the evening, the Nastri of the Year for Documentaries will also be awarded to Gabriele Salvatores (Italy in a Day) Gianni Amelio (Felice chi è diverso and Walter Veltroni (Quando c’era Berlinguer). Lastly, a Special Award will go to Jacopo Quadri for La scuola d’estate, an exquisite movie that documents theatrical training with Luca Ronconi, the great theatre director who passed away a few days ago. 

From Cineuropa

"Senza Lucio" - Un documentario di Mario Sesti


"Senza Lucio" esce documentario su Lucio Dalla - dal 4 marzo in sala il film di Mario Sesti

"Il film nasce dal desiderio di condividere il ricordo di chi ha conosciuto Lucio Dalla e di far sì che chi lo vede torni a casa e metta un suo disco a tutto volume", così Mario Sesti autore e regista di ‘Senza Lucio’ documentario prodotto da Erma Films e distribuito dal 4 marzo da I Wonder in 170 copie. Voce narrante il compagno del cantautore Marco Alemanno: "Sono stato la persona che Lucio ha voluto vicino a sè per anni, non voglio tenere questa esperienza fortunata in un cassetto".

Il film racconta Lucio Dalla attraverso gli occhi di chi gli è stato più vicino negli ultimi dieci anni, Marco Alemanno: tutti conosciamo Dalla, non solo irripetibile autore e musicista ma anche personaggio pubblico che ognuno, almeno a partire dagli anni ’70, sente come mito o compagno di strada, come icona di creatività, ironia e libertà, ma anche un po’ come parte della propria vita e della propria famiglia.
Alemanno parla del suo incontro con Lucio, della sua crescita umana, professionale e artistica vivendo al suo fianco, ma anche di tutti gli aspetti più quotidiani e profondi della vita di Dalla: dall’amore per il Sud d’Italia, nato durante l’infanzia, alla passione per il cinema, dal suo rapporto con la musica alla sua bulimica curiosità di gettarsi continuamente in altre avventure (il teatro, la poesia, l’arte in genere), dalla frenesia mercuriale all’umorismo inesauribile.
Ma, soprattutto, dalla conversazione con Marco Alemanno, viene fuori un sentimento che tutti possiamo condividere: una intensa e malinconica sensazione di perdita che, chiunque, alla morte di Lucio Dalla ha provato.
Alemanno, attraverso i suoi racconti, diventa quasi la proiezione di quel compagno di strada che tantissime persone hanno identificato in Dalla, e che ora, grazie al film, possono scoprire meglio.
Il film è anche una mappa dei luoghi del mondo di Lucio Dalla: un viaggio nei paesaggi in cui il cantautore è stato più vicino al mondo della propria felicità e dei propri sogni. Da Bologna alla Puglia di Manfredonia e delle Isole Tremiti, fino alla Sicilia dell’Etna e di Milo.
La voce principale sarà quella di Marco Alemanno – come anche i suoi occhi: nel film si vedranno, in alcuni casi per la prima volta, le centinaia e centinaia di fotografie che Alemanno ha scattato riprendendo sia Lucio sia i luoghi che Dalla stesso gli chiedeva di fotografare (gli angoli della sua infanzia, come i pezzi di un mondo che sembra uscito dallo sguardo delle sue canzoni; i luoghi della sua esistenza giornaliera, come le tappe del suo inesausto girovagare per il mondo).

Non mancano nel film le voci di chi ha collaborato e lo ha conosciuto meglio (in Italia come all’estero): star internazionali come per esempio Charles Aznavour o Paolo Nutini, attori e autori di cinema con cui ha lavorato come John Turturro, i fratelli Taviani, Isabella Rossellini; teologi come Enzo Bianchi, artisti come Luigi Ontani e Mimmo Paladino, critici musicali come Ernesto Assante e Gino Castaldo, ma anche musicisti e nomi noti dello show business e del professionismo musicale come Renzo Arbore, Stefano Di Battista, i Marta sui Tubi, Piera Degli Esposti (che lo conosceva sin dall’infanzia), Paola Pallottino (che ha scritto per lui il testo di 4/3/1943) oppure Michele Mondella e Beppe D’Onghia (che hanno lavorato con lui per decenni). Ci sono voci di intellettuali che lui frequentava abitualmente (Antonio Forcellino, Peppe e Toni Servillo) e insieme alla loro c’è anche la testimonianza di persone semplici che gli erano molto vicine alle Isole Tremiti e in Sicilia, a Milo, (i suoi due Buen Ritiro) e un coro di non professionisti (Novesesti) diretti dal maestro Paolo Tagliapietra che esegue un brano di Dalla meno noto ma struggente, scritto con Roberto Roversi (Ulisse coperto di sale).
Ma è soprattutto il racconto più interno (cosa pensava Dalla di se stesso, del suo talento, del suo successo), i momenti più appartati e solitari (la contemplazione del mondo, la curiosità insaziabile per gli altri) che nel film fanno conoscere un Lucio Dalla che pochissimi hanno avuto la possibilità di sentir raccontare. Da questo punto di vista, tuttavia, il racconto su Dalla di Marco Alemanno ci porta sorprendentemente in uno stato d’animo che conosciamo meglio di quanto sospettiamo: tutti noi, abituati ad avere vicino la sua musica, le sue parole, le sue canzoni, come se facessero parte integrante del paesaggio della nostra esistenza, abbiamo provato una sensazione di perdita irreparabile alla sua scomparsa.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Costume Designer Milena Canonero

Update: January 31, 2017

It's just been announced that Milena Canonero will receive the Golden Bear homage at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

Born in Torino, Italy, Milena Canonero studied art, design history and costume design in Genoa. She then moved to England, where she began working in small theatre and film productions. While designing for commercials in London, she met many film directors.

Her first major film work as a costume designer was in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). She worked with Kubrick again in Barry Lyndon (1975), for which she won her first Oscar, together with Ulla-Britt Söderlund. Her second win was for Chariots of Fire (1981), directed by Hugh Hudson.

Canonero has also designed the costumes for several stagings directed by Otto Schenk, such as Il trittico (Puccini, Vienna State Opera 1979), As You Like It (Shakespeare, Salzburg Festival 1980), Die Fledermaus (Strauss, Vienna State Opera 1980), Andrea Chénier (Giordano, Vienna State Opera 1981), and Arabella (Strauss, Metropolitan Opera 1983). For director Luc Bondy she created the costumes for new productions of Puccini's Tosca (Metropolitan Opera, 2009), and of Euripides' Helena (Burgtheater, Vienna, 2010).

In 1986, Canonero became the costume designer for the television series Miami Vice.

In 2001, Canonero received the Career Achievement Award in Film from the Costume Designers Guild. She won her third Oscar for Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006).

She received her ninth nomination and fourth win at the 87th Academy Awards for the film The Grand Budapest Hotel, as well as a nomination & winning the BAFTA for the film The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2015.

Canonero is married to actor Marshall Bell. 

Oscar Thank You Cam

From Wikipedia

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Documentary Explores Ecosystem of Lagoon in Orbetello



Update 8 January 2016
I Cavaliere della Laguna wins Best Documentary at the Toronto World International Film Festival.


Taking a look back at one of my favorite films of 2014, a documentary presented at the 64th Berlin Film Festival...


“We like it hot… but don’t let it burn” was the motto of the Berlin Film Festival's 2014's Culinary Cinema section, which featured three very diverse Italian films. What did they have in common? Food and wine, of course. 

I caught up with Walter Bencini, director of the documentary film, I Cavaliere della Laguna (The Knights of the Lagoon). The film explores the delicate ecosystem of a lagoon in the Tuscan village of Orbetello. Bencini's cameras follow a group of fishermen as they talk about their camaraderie, challenges and the respect they have for the art of fishing. The film highlights how the environment has changed through the years and how the technique of fishing has evolved to keep up with those changes. 


An Italian translation of each answer is included with each question.

What was your personal inspiration to tell this story? 
With this unprecedented economic crisis in which the Western industrial system has utterly failed, it is fundamental for me to highlight and promote alternative production models. The logic of small communities like this, in a globalized world made of astronomical figures, may seem insignificant, but according to my point of view is the only way forward if you want to find a harmonious relationship with our mother earth. This community needs to address the issues that are common to many other cultures in the world. In some ways, the lagoon environments are examples of anticipating what may happen in the larger territories.

Con questa crisi economica senza precedenti, in cui il sistema industriale occidentale ha fallito in pieno, per me diventa fondamentale mettere in luce e promuovere dei modelli produttivi alternativi. La logica delle piccole realtà locali come questa, in un mondo globalizzato fatto di cifre astronomiche, può sembrare insignificante, anacronistica, eppure secondo il mio punto di vista è l'unica via percorribile, se si vuole ritrovare un rapporto armonico con la nostra madre terra. Questa comunità deve affrontare delle problematiche che sono comuni a tante altre realtà del mondo. Per certi versi, gli ambienti lagunari sono degli esempi anticipatori di quello che può succedere in territori più ampi. Come si dice dalle nostre parti "tutto il mondo è paese"

The cinematography is poetic in the way that it connects the landscape with the ecosystem and fishermen. What are the concerns of the fishermen for the environment?
This community operates in a way that is very nice and charming but at the same time very complex and delicate, always on the verge of collapse. Consider that until the 80's, there was no environmental awareness that there is today, so all the overflow in the region from the industrial activities ended up in the lagoon. Therefore, all these organic substances accumulated over time and have fostered the growth of algae, which in turn resulted in large fish kills. Everything the community has done in recent years aimed at combating this problem has only led to changes in the ecosystem, and therefore new problems to deal with, such as the increase of migratory birds. The fish have changed their habits and there are fewer of them in the lagoon. There is more salt in the water, and the tides have changed. 

Questa comunità, opera in un contesto molto bello e suggestivo ma allo stesso tempo molto complesso e delicato, sempre al limite del collasso. Considera che fino agli anni 80 non c'era quella sensibilità ambientale che c'è oggi, quindi tutti gli scarichi del paese e delle poche attività industriali finivano dentro la laguna. Di conseguenza tutte queste sostanze organiche accumulate nel tempo, hanno favorito la crescita delle alghe, che a sua volta hanno provocato grandi morie di pesci. Tutte le azioni della comunità negli ultimi anni atte a contrastare questo fenomeno hanno portato solo a cambiamenti nell'ecosistema, e quindi nuove problematiche da affrontare: gli uccelli migratori aumentano sempre di più, i pesci hanno cambiato le loro abitudini e sono sempre meno, l'acqua è sempre piu salata, le maree non sono piu quelle naturali...

How has the business of fishing evolved for these fishermen? For example.. how will the process be different for future generations?
Unfortunately, there has been a decline over time. For the last century, the job of a fisherman was coveted by many young people as they worked a half day and earned as much as a bank clerk. In the past, the fishing cooperative was thriving and was based solely on fishing. Then it started to decline. The number of fish decreased, and the global market gave the coup de grace. The result was that the cooperative had to invent new jobs to try to survive, borrowing from banks and threatening to leave future generations a debt that will never be paid.

Purtroppo c'è stato un involuzione nel tempo, perchè fino agli anni 90 fare il pescatore nella laguna di Orbetello era un lavoro ambito da molti giovani, in quanto si lavorava mezza giornata e si guadagnava quanto un impiegato di banca. All' epoca la cooperativa era florida e si basava solamente sulla pesca, poi è iniziato il declino, le morie sono aumentate, i pesci sono diminuiti, e il mercato globale ha dato il colpo di grazia. Il risultato è stato che la cooperativa ha dovuto inventarsi dei nuovi lavori per cercare di sopravvivere, indebitandosi con le banche e rischiando di lasciare alle generazioni future un debito che non riusciranno mai ad estinguere.


In the trailer, the fishermen speak about a huge investment that scares them. Can you tell me about this investment and its purpose?
Seven years ago the cooperative invested nearly three million dollars in a new plant for the processing of fish, an expensive investment that would be repaid in part by the sale of bottarga (dried mullet eggs) in a period in which this fish was abundant. Then suddenly there was a decline in the fish, and the flagship product that had to bear the investment failed. 

Sette anni fa la cooperativa ha investito 4 milioni di euro in un nuovo stabilimento per la trasformazione del pesce, un investimento oneroso ma che avrebbe ripagato in parte con la vendita della bottarga, (uova essiccate di muggine) in un periodo in cui questo pesce abbondava, poi all'improvviso c'è stato un calo, quindi il prodotto di punta che doveva sostenere l'investimento è venuto a mancare, e nonostante che abbiano ripiegato su altri trasformati, fanno fatica ad andare avanti.

Tell me about your experience making this film. What did you enjoy the most, and what were your challenges?
Being able to finish a film is always an exciting venture, especially when you're talking about issues that deal with human stories. In this case, the emotional involvement was so strong, that in order to finish, you are willing to spend more than it should cost. The first challenge was that of writing.
It took three years to complete, 30 hours of footage, and months of post production. The whole thing was built on a script of dialogue and situations that were very open and flexible. It had to be rewritten three times, because the situations that I predicted in pre-production changed. Some characters retired, others didn't work out as I expected and others just vanished. Luckily, I met people who led me in new directions, so it was constantly a screenplay that was changing and adapting to what was happening at the time. The second challenge was human. Making this film has given me the opportunity to have a human experience. It was amazing to know these wonderful men with their constant banter, as they talked about the pride of their no-frills job. At first, the people were a little grumpy. But over time, being with them, becoming one of them, they opened up because they understood that I was doing a different job from others who had preceded me. I was more interested in them and their stories. I went into this relationship with them on the heels of respect and admiration. They did not expect that, and I used that approach to build the narrative line of the film.

Riuscire terminare un film è sempre un'impresa emozionante, specialmente quando si toccano queste tematiche e si ha a che fare con storie umane. In questi casi l'implicazione emotiva è talmente forte che pur di finirlo, sei disposto ad esporti economicamente più del dovuto, rischiando anche la banca rotta.
La prima sfida è stata quella della scrittura.
Ci sono voluti 3 anni per portarlo a termine, 30 ore di girato, e mesi di post produzione. Il tutto è stato costruito su una sceneggiatura di massima, molto aperta, flessibile che è stata riscritta 3 volte, proprio perché le situazioni che avevo previsto in fase di pre-produzione sono cambiate, alcuni personaggi sono andati in pensione, altri non hanno funzionato come mi aspettavo, altri ancora si sono dileguati. Per fortuna ho conosciuto altri soggetti che però mi hanno portato in altre direzioni. Insomma una sceneggiatura in divenire, che si è adattata a quello che successo al momento.
La seconda sfida è stata quella umana.
Realizzare questo film mi ha dato la possibilità avere un esperienza umana incredibile, conoscere questi uomini meravigliosi con quel loro costante prendersi in giro, il raccontarsi senza fronzoli, quella fierezza, quell'orgoglio del proprio mestiere, mi hanno letteralmente affascinato.Certo non è stato facile entrare in relazione con questa comunità, sono persone burbere, ma con il tempo, stando con loro, diventando uno di loro, si sono aperti senza problemi, perchè hanno capito che stavo facendo un lavoro diverso dagli altri che mi avevano preceduto, ero più interessato a loro e alle loro storie, che al prodotto finito. Sono entrato in relazione con quel rispetto e ammirazione che non si aspettavano, che è lo stesso approccio che ho utilizzato per costruire la linea narrativa del film.

For more information about the film, visit its website and view the film's trailer.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Massimo Troisi: Forever in our Hearts

"Ci mancherai tanto, Massimo" - "We will miss you so much, Massimo" is the headline on one of the many websites dedicated to the memory of the great Italian screen comic Massimo Troisi, and judging by his continuing popularity, it looks as if many Italians, and others, feel the same way.

Born in San Giorgio a Cremano, outside Naples, Troisi became involved in theater quite young, co-founding with friends Lello Arena and Enzo Decaro the comedy troupe I Saraceni at just 17-years-old. Within a few years, the troupe - later re-named La Smorfia - became so well known, they were invited to appear on various national TV variety shows. In 1981, Troisi co-wrote, directed, and starred in his first feature film, the hugely popular Ricomincio da tre (I'm Starting from Three) and a new style of Italian comedy was launched.

The story follows the dark-eyed, handsome Troisi. As he exuded an extraordinary sense of innocence on screen, there was a relaxed quality to his work on this film- the absolute opposite of the style of his close friend and fellow comic Roberto Benigni. Troisi's character, always being caught up short, suddenly finds himself overwhelmed by what's going on around him, at which point he'll launch into a barely decipherable, Neapolitan-flavored monologue that attempts to make sense of what's going on. It's a richly humanist kind of humor that shows us new ways of discovering just about everything around us.


Over the next decade, Troisi would refine his screen persona and comic vision, always touching our hearts (and cracking us up) with a sweet, sly smile, whether he was time-traveling to the 15th century or trading barbs about Mussolini. Although we can only speculate where his artistry might have led him, the work he left behind guarantees that he will always hold a coveted place in Italian cinema. Perhaps the finest contemporary heir of the great tradition of commedia all'italiana, Troisi tragically passed away in 1994 at the age of 41, one day after completing principal photography for Il postino, the film that launched him to the international spotlight.

Among his hit films, Non ci resta che piangere (Nothing Left to Do But Cry) is an absolute favorite of mine. Starring two comic geniuses, Massimo Troisi and Roberto Benigni, the 1984 fantasy film follows elementary school teacher Saverio (Benigni) and his cousin Mario (Troisi) as they seek shelter from a sudden storm in an old house buried in the Tuscan hills. The next morning they discover they've somehow been transported to the 15th century. Naturally horrified at first, Saverio realizes this is his big chance to change the course of history: if only he can get to Spain in time to stop Columbus from discovering America. Along the way the two will have a run-in with Savonarola (who they advise in a letter to "take it easy") and get to reveal some possible inventions to Leonardo da Vinci, not to mention find time to romance Amanda Sandrelli. The film is a unique opportunity to watch two of Italy's contemporary comic masters at their very best.

In the 1992 film, Pensavo fosse amore invece era un calesse (I Thought it was Love) Tommaso (Troisi) and Cecilia (Francesca Neri) quietly go about their lives; he manages a restaurant, she works in a bookshop. They've been together quite a while, and finally decide to make it official and get married, which actually marks the beginning of all their problems. Just before the happy occasion, Cecilia gets cold feet. She accuses Tommaso of being lazy and unfaithful. For his part, Tommaso comes to think that maybe marriage wasn't such a good idea. After all, they're in Naples, where passion and romance are among everyone's favorite hobbies. Everything's cool, it seems to have worked out for the best, but then Tommaso discovers that Cecilia has taken up with someone else. It's a great romantic comedy with some hilarious plot twists and graced once again by a superb supporting cast, especially Marco Messeri, who plays Enea, the new love interest who turns out to be much more than Cecilia bargained for.

And of course, there is our beloved, Il postino (The Postman), which was directed by British filmmaker, Michael Radford in 1994. Based on the novel by Antonio Skármeta, the film is set on a small Italian island on which the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (beautifully played by French actor Philippe Noiret) is living in exile. Mario (Troisi), a fisherman's son who can't stand the water, is drafted to serve as an additional mail carrier mainly to service Neruda, who receives dozens of letters each day. The two begin a careful, tentative friendship; Neruda tells Mario a few things about poetry, and Mario tells him about his life. Then Mario catches sight of Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), the café owner's beautiful daughter. Mario wants to let her know how he feels about her, but just can't find the words; so who better to ask for help but a world-famous poet? A gentle, delicate description of the evolution of a friendship, Il postino avoids large dramatic scenes and instead focuses on the nuances of the relationship between Neruda and Mario, despite their enormous differences. Troisi had never been better, and it's hard to imagine a better tribute to his great talent.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

American Filmmaker tells the Story of Sacco and Vanzetti

The year was 1920. The climate for Italian immigrants in America was tumultuous. Prejudice was running rampant and the frustration of immigrants was mounting. For southern Italians, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, that prejudice, that deep-rooted hatred of a certain group of people, took them away from their families and eventually cost them their lives.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti came to America for the same reason as most of our ancestors did; to find a better life, to walk on the streets paved with gold. As it has been said, not only weren't the streets paved, the immigrants were the ones who did the paving. The men felt the working class in America was treated unfairly and so they became involved with Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani, an advocate for violence in the name of politics. During that time, Italian anarchists were on the government's watch list and considered dangerous enemies. Sacco and Vanzetti were no different. The two had associations with those accused of bombings in 1919. Then on April 15, 1920, a shoe factory paymaster and a security guard were robbed and killed in South Braintree, Massachusetts. That's when Nicola Sacco's and Bartolomeo Vanzetti's lives changed forever.  
The men were accused of the crime and stood on trial twice. The presiding judge both times was Webster Thayer. A Boston Globe reporter said of Thayer, "[He] was conducting himself in an undignified way, in a way I had never seen in thirty-six years. I have seen the judge sit in his gown and spit on the floor." More than a dozen witnesses were produced by Sacco and Vanzetti, most of whom were dismissed due to their broken English. Several witnesses for the prosecution who had been interviewed by detectives shortly after the crime, changed their initial descriptions of the suspects and getaway car. Both men had alibis. Those were dismissed too. A Portuguese convict named Celestino Madeiros claimed it was he who committed the crime and Sacco requested a new trial. That was also denied. Then on August 23, 1927, after worldwide pleas and protests, the two men were executed in the electric chair in the United States of America, the country in which they searched for a better life.

Sacco and Vanzetti. It's a case that shocked and angered the world and now the documentary will break your heart. Filmmaker Peter Miller tells the story of the two Italian immigrants from their lives in Italy, their dreams of America and the events that lead to that fateful day in 1920. The 80-minute film is made up of interviews by historians, people who were actually there when the story broke, Nicola Sacco's family in Italy and heart-wrenching letters written by the men while they remained behind bars. The footage alone in this film is a reason to see it... the sea of people who crowded the streets of Boston protesting the execution, the people who marched behind the men's coffins. Miller captured the passion and chaos the trial provoked around the world when it was happening. Although it was nearly 100 years ago, it is a timeless story of broken dreams, sacrifice and courage in the face of death.
I had the privilege of talking with Peter Miller about his film. He told me what inspired him to tell this story and how the plight of these Italian immigrants mirrors the struggles and challenges of immigrant groups today.
What was it about the story of Sacco and Vanzetti that inspired you to make this film?
I make films about American history, and my passion is for stories of American working class and radical movements; the Sacco and Vanzetti case is a signal moment in that history.  It is also a story from the past with great resonance in the present, at a time when we’re still grappling with issues of civil liberties and the rights of immigrants.  But above all, I was drawn to the two remarkable men at the center of this story.
What moved you the most about their story?
When I began the project, I was drawn to the larger meaning of the Sacco and Vanzetti story, what it said about justice and politics and ethnicity.  But then I read the letters that Sacco and Vanzetti wrote from prison.  Neither man spoke much English when he went to prison, but during the seven years between their arrest and their execution, Sacco and Vanzetti created some of the most powerful  writing I’ve ever read in the English language.  I found myself drawn to these two men as people, not as symbols or abstractions.  I realized that my film had to be about how Sacco and Vanzetti – and the many people they touched experienced this ordeal on a personal level.

Was it difficult to find people to talk about the case on camera?

Very few people are still alive who remember the case personally.  Yet we found as many as we could – including Vanzetti’s neighbor and the daughter of the murdered paymaster.  My filmmaking partner Amy Linton and I knew that without many living witnesses, we would need to find other people who could speak passionately about the story – historians, artists who have interpreted the case in their work, writers, family members.  And we allowed Sacco and Vanzetti to help tell their own stories, through the beautiful readings of their letters by the actors Tony Shalhoub and John Turturro.
What was it like to communicate with their family members back in Italy? Do you feel that they have resentment towards the U.S. or do they believe that the people of our country fought for the freedom of Sacco and Vanzetti?
One of the great highlights of making the film was meeting Nicola Sacco’s niece in Sacco’s hometown of Torremaggiore, in Puglia.  Fernanda Sacco has devoted great energy over many years to helping keep her uncle’s story alive – and has even gotten her town to put up a monument to these two slain radicals in the local cemetery.  Mrs. Sacco visited me in New York as we were editing the film – I brought her on a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, where she wept, remembering how America betrayed the ideals the statue represented by robbing her uncle of his liberty and his life.

And how about the daughter of the robbery victim? She said that someone thought Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty.  Does she believe justice was done?

When we asked the paymaster’s daughter whether she thought Sacco and Vanzetti killed her father, she could only answer that “somebody did.” Clearly justice was not served in this case. It’s not the victim’s family’s responsibility to figure out who committed the crime, that’s the job of the courts.  The trial was not only a travesty of justice, it was an insult to the victims of the crime, who are still waiting for justice to be served over eighty years later.

Do you feel the case has had a lasting impact on our judicial system?

The Sacco and Vanzetti case didn’t break important legal ground, but it did have an enormous impact on the social consciousness of generations of Americans. The trial helped to define America in many people’s minds, and the two men’s courage inspired millions of people to struggle for a better world.  We begin our film with a quote from Vanzetti, in which he states that had it not been for their ordeal, he and Sacco would have died in obscurity.  The case enabled them to do tremendous work for justice; their agony, Vanzetti reflects, was also their triumph.
You brought our modern international conflicts into the film.  How do the prejudices against Sacco and Vanzetti parallel to what's going on in the world now?
Italians were subject to vicious discrimination in this country in the early part of the 20th century.  Now they’ve been replaced by other ethnic groups.  Can the lessons of Sacco and Vanzetti’s time help us consider how we interact with present-day immigrant groups like Latinos, Muslims, and Arabs? I hope that well-established immigrant groups today will be as welcoming to new arrivals as we would have liked others to be to us when our families came here.
What do you feel is the legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti?
The case of Sacco and Vanzetti tells us a great deal about the dangers of allowing politics and prejudice to taint our judicial system.  But the huge public outcry on behalf of the two men tells us something even more important.  The public can and must stand up against injustice and bigotry whenever they raise their ugly heads.  Millions of people marched on behalf of Sacco and Vanzetti – I would like to think that such an outpouring of concern could happen again today.
For more information or to purchase the film, visit www.willowpondfilms.com.

Rudolph Valentino: The First Italian-American Heartthrob

Part I of the PBS Special "The Italian Americans" featured the Southern Italian-born actor, Rudolph Valentino. While reading about his life and career, I stumbled upon this fascinating bio written for IMDB..

IMDb Mini Biography By: Hala Pickford 

Born in 1895 to a French mother and Italian father Rudolph Valentino grew up in Italy. His father died while he was young, and his mother spoiled him. He did poorly in school, and eventually ended up studying agriculture. After a stint in Paris he returned to Italy broke. Many times Valentino referenced something he did being the cause of being sent away. His journey to New York City took place just under 9 months before Jean Valentino would be born. 

In New York City Valentino met with his Padrino (Godfather) Frank Mennillo who helped him secure a job and a place to live. Eventually Valentino was hired as a taxi dancer (someone who danced with various women in a café for 10 cents a dance). A good looking and gifted dancer he rose above the ranks and began performing for New York society elite. Infatuated and conducting an affair with married society woman Blanca de Saulles he testified in her defense during her divorce trial. Her husband John, a prominent businessman was not pleased and had Valentino arrested on vice charges that to this day are not clear (the records were wiped clean in the 1920s). After surviving this scandal Blanca shot her now ex-husband and Valentino left New York, hoping to avoid a new wave of scandal. 
He ended up in San Francisco where his Padrino Frank Mennillo had since relocated to. He soon met Norman Kerry who suggested he try his hand at silent films. Valentino headed to Los Angeles on Kerry's advice, and began making the rounds at studios. A deeply exotic and alluring man his type was usually used for 'heavies' or villains. Eventually he eked out a living mostly co-starring in b-rated pictures.
During this time his mother died, devastating him. Hoping to recover from this shock he fell in love with fellow small time actress Jean Acker. Acker, a lesbian, was involved in a love triangle with powerful actresses Grace Darmond and Alla Nazimova. Valentino, unaware of her orientation, proposed. Acker accepted seeing it as a safe way out of her conundrum without ruining her career. The two were married at a party and after dancing all night headed for their hotel room. Acker locked Valentino out and the marriage was never consummated. Valentino, not understanding, sent her love letters for months begging her to 'forgive' him for whatever it was he had done, and to be his wife. Eventually it must have been explained to him because he moved on and the pair separated, though not divorced.
 
Soon after this Metro Executive June Mathis spotted him in a small part in the Clara Kimball Young film "Eyes of Youth". Mathis was in charge or writing and producing the epic film "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse". She chose the mostly unknown Valentino to play Latin lover Julio. Though executives were hesitant Mathis eventually got her way. She mentored Valentino and the two became close friends, and possibly were romantic at one time. 
"The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"
"The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" was a major success, launching Valentino into super stardom and giving him the image of a 'Latin Lover'. However his contract with Metro was not in his favor, and they quickly cast him in a b picture, "Uncharted Seas". This was followed by the Nazimova film "Camille" on which Valentino became close with the artistic director, Natacha Rambova. The two fell in love and moved in together, and soon a divorce was acquired from Jean Acker. 
 
Without consulting any of his friends, let alone a lawyer, Valentino signed with Famous Players-Lasky again making a paltry salary. Famous Players cast him in perhaps his most famous role "The Sheik" in 1921. The Sheik was a cultural phenomena and much to Valentino's chagrin it was the image most associated with him. Ironically 5 years later it would also be his last film role. 
"Blood and Sand"
Mathis eventually moved to Famous Players where she wrote "The Conquering Power" and "Blood and Sand" for Valentino. "Blood and Sand" was a major hit and the first pairing of Valentino with his most frequent co-star, vamp Nita Naldi. Valentino married Rambova during this time in Mexico, only to return to California and find he had a warrant for bigamy on his head. At the time the law stipulated one must wait 1 year between divorce and a new marriage, and one year had not passed since his divorce was finalized from Jean Acker. Valentino was thrown in jail over the weekend, with Mathis, George Fitzmaurice, and Thomas Meighan bailing him out on Monday. Famous Players-Lasky did nothing and ordered him back to work on "The Young Rajah". Rambova and Valentino were forced to separate with Rambova being sent to New York. Ironically she still worked on "The Young Rajah" designing costumes.

"The Young Rajah" was not a hit, and Valentino was furious over the whole situation. Famous Players-Lasky ordered him to start work on a new film, but he refused and started refusing his salary (despite the fact he was in debt and actually owed the studio money from helping with his divorce). The matter played out in the press and Valentino embarked on a "One Man Strike" from Famous Players-Lasky. Famous Players obtained a court order forbidding him to work at all, though this was eventually was reduced to just work in film. Valentino insisted his strike was not about money but for artistic control, indeed he turned down an offer of $7,000 a week...a huge improvement over his last salary.
During this time to keep afloat Valentino wrote a book of poetry, gave interviews, and eventually accepted an offer to promote Minervala Beauty Clay via a dance tour. He also hired former Minervala advertising man George Ullman to be his business manager. The tour was a major success and afterwords he and his wife visited Europe. When they returned he signed with Ritz Carlton, though he still owed 2 films to Famous Players. His comeback picture, "Monsieur Beaucaire" was a French action comedy. Rambova had a major hand in the production, and when the film flopped she was blamed. His next film an artistic Latin Lover feature "A Sainted Devil" also did not fair well. Now free from Famous Players he and Rambova set upon creating their dream project "The Hooded Falcon".

"The Hooded Falcon" was a disaster, with double the advanced budget spent on costumes alone. After asking Mathis to write a script for the film Valentino, Rambova, and the directer felt it not up to par. Informed by George Ullman, Mathis promptly refused to have anything to do with Valentino or Rambova. She ran off and eloped with an Italian cameraman. She would not make up with Valentino until a few months before his death. Eventually The Hooded Falcon was scrapped, and the duo's contract terminated with Ritz Carlton. They had made only one film, a quickie named "Cobra" which also did not perform well. 
At this time Valentino and Rambova's marriage became strained. Rightly or wrongly Rambova was blamed for his failures in the press. Reportedly children was another issue: Valentino desperately wanted children, while Rambova did not. Ironically the only person to dispute this was Ullman, who constantly feuded with Rambova. A contract from United Artists was offered to Valentino, giving him all sorts of freedoms and a good salary. It has long been said Rambova was stipulated via contract to not be on set or have any involvement in his films with UA, but that is untrue. Rambova was still miffed and Valentino and Ullman offered to finance a film for her that became "What Price Beauty?"
She had an affair with her cameraman causing Rudy to vow he would kill the man. Only George Ullman could dissuade them. Divorce papers were drawn up and Rambova left for New York. The press assumed she had left then announced the divorce out of the blue, when in reality both knew during their final kiss that a divorce was in the works. Rambova eventually obtained her divorce in France.
'The Eagle"
Valentino was despondent, and contemplated suicide, especially as he was unable to obtain custody of Jean which he tried around this time. He became reckless during this time, almost killing himself in various car accidents. Work began on T"he Eagle" in 1925, pairing him with Vilma Banky. The two became good friends, but it's unlikely they were lovers. The Eagle was a success, and work began on Son of the Sheik, a sequel to the first film. Son of the Sheik was also a success, but sadly Valentino did not live to see much of it.
Rudy was not mourning the loss of Rambova however. He was dating Mae Murray and Pola Negri concurrently, as well as several other beauties. This only ended when Mae wed a Mdivani (Pola would later marry his brother.)

Valentino had been ill for several months, but refused to see a doctor. In August 1926 the pain was so bad a doctor was called, and he was transferred to a hospital in New York City. He had ulcers, which were operated on. Everyone believed he would be fine, and doctors gave optimistic reports. Valentino himself thought he would recover soon, he asked to be moved back to his hotel with a nurse to attend to him. The doctors refused. A few days after the surgery Valentino took a turn for the worse, his lungs were filled with fluid and infection had set in. He died on August 23rd, 1926 at the age of 31 with Frank Mennillo and George Ullman at his side. Everyone was shocked, and though there had been celebrity deaths before his, the public's reaction was extremely intense. 

George Ullman was the executor of his estate. Hoping to help keep Valentino's name in the papers long enough to promote "Son of the Sheik" (Valentino's estate was $3 million in debt, leaving no money to take care of his affairs or even bury him) he decided to allow a public viewing. However the viewing became a madhouse, and Ullman pulled the plug abruptly. A funeral was held in New York. The body was transported across the country to Los Angeles where another funeral was held, and Valentino was buried. June Mathis had a row of crypts at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. She offered to loan Valentino one of her crypts. However she died herself in 1927, and Valentino was moved into what would have been her husband's crypt. In the 1930's, Mathis' husband sold the crypt to the Valentino family, Valentino lies in the 'borrowed' crypt to this day. 
There were many plans for memorials and statues after his death, however Mathis' death, and the Great Depression put an end to these. Today about 60% of Valentino's films still survive, including his most noteworthy ones. He's still remembered as The Great Lover of the Silver Screen.  
 
A beautiful montage of Valentino's life..
 


 
 

Explore the History of Pompeii Through Cinema

On a recent trip to Torre Annunziata, we made a stop in nearby Pompeii to see the infamous ruins of one catastrophic day that took the li...