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Monday, July 30, 2018

The Photography of Silent Film Actress Tina Modotti

I recently stumbled upon the photography of silent film actress Tina Modotti and it's absolutely mesmerizing.

Modotti was born in 1896 in the northern Italian city of Udine and  immigrated to the United States in 1913. She headed to San Francesco where her father had arrived earlier. There, she became involved in the performing arts and landed parts in plays, operas and silent films.

Modotti was ahead of her time and a true working woman on the move. During the course of her life, she worked as a photographer, model, actress and political activist. She moved to Mexico City in the early 1920s and dedicated her life to political activism where she eventually joined the Mexican Communist Party. Her life thrived in Mexico City and her close circle of friends included artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Modotti died at the age of 45 of congestive heart failure while on her way home in a cab. Neruda wrote the epitaph for her grave stone:
Pure your gentle name, pure your fragile life,
bees, shadows, fire, snow, silence and foam,
combined with steel and wire and
pollen to make up your firm
and delicate being.

Click here to browse a collection of her photographs organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Click here to read about the miniseries that will be made about her life with Monica Bellucci in the starring role and Edoardo De Angelis in the director's chair.

Watch Tina Modotti in this restored version of The Tiger's Coat...

- Jeannine Guilyard

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Italian Selection of the 71st Locarno Film Festival

Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli's LikeMeBack 
Switzerland's Locarno Film Festival, with its signature outdoor venue, has always been a sure spot for Italian cinema, and a huge supporter of new talent. The 71st edition is no different. Check out this great lineup of contemporary Italian films.

(S)WORDS by Federico Di Corato: Pardi di domani: Concorso internazionale
DULCINEA by Luca Ferri: Signs of Life
THE GUEST by Duccio Chiarini: Piazza Grande
JUST LIKE MY SON by Costanza Quatriglio: Fuori Concorso
LIKEMEBACK by Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli: Concorso Cineasti del presente
MENOCCHIO by Alberto Fasulo: Concorso internazionale
MY BELOVED ENEMY by Denis Rabaglia: Piazza Grande
MY HOME, IN LIBYA by Martina Melilli: Fuori Concorso
ORA E SEMPRE RIPRENDIAMOCI LA VITA by Silvano Agosti: Fuori Concorso

The first edition of the Locarno Film Festival opened on August 23, 1946 with a screening of Giacomo Gentilomo's Sole Mio. The 2018 edition will carry on that dedication to Italian cinema beginning Wednesday and running through August 11. Click here for more information. 

Actor/Director Antonio Albanese on the Immigration Crisis in Italy

Antonio Albanese is one of contemporary Italy's most versatile actors. Having portrayed characters in just about every situation one can find himself in, Albanese has proven that he could bring that level of diversity to writing and directing as well.

His latest directorial effort is the comedy Contromano, which deals with the ever so relevant subject of  immigration. Albanese directs himself in the role of Mario Cavallari. A man set in his ways, Mario is confronted with the prospect of a new boss. When a Senegalese sock vendor further upsets his daily routine, Mario searches for a solution and ends up being forced to step out of his confort zone and face life head on.

Albanese recently presented the film at Canada's Italian Contemporary Film Festival. He addressed the film's relevance during this important moment in Italian history as the country's newly elected officials are taking controversial steps to control the number of clandestine immigrants seeking refuge in Italy.

"The idea came from the fact that there is an association in Italy which helps people in Africa by giving them a chance, for a few euros, to purchase a section of land. With one section, you can support one to two families. This association actually gives money to Africans so they can stay in Africa and purchase this land that is being undersold, being given away. In one year, about 45,000 Africans were able to grow their own vegetable gardens, grown their own products and stay in their country. This was one idea. Of course, there were other ideas. The other idea was to have a character who sells socks in Milan but dreams of owning his own piece of land in Africa.The original concept was to provide importance to lands that have been abandoned and are left to their own vices. Through the assistance and aid of other people, and through the monetary assistance of this association and others... this is one solution that can be looked at. There are many others. There isn't one simple way to resolve the issue of immigration. We started with the initial idea of abandoning certain land. It's kind of a counter-current idea because of course immigration has always been handled with underscoring pain and desperation, which of course are aspects of it. But people don't usually talk about immigration with a serene point-of-view. It's always dealt with in a very sad and miserable way. If you only face it in a sad and miserable way, it difficult to really understand it."

- Jeannine Guilyard

Monday, July 23, 2018

The lineup of the 33rd Venice International Films Critics' Week

Letizia Lamartine's Saremo giovani e bellissimi

The Venice International Film Critics’ Week (SIC) is an independent and parallel section organized by the National Union of Italian Film Critics (SNCCI) during the 75th Venice International Film Festival (29th August – 8th September, 2018). 

The program will open with Toni D'Angelo's short film Nessuno è innocente starring Salvatore Esposito, and will include a selection of seven debut films in competition and two special events out of competition, all presented in world premiere screenings. The selection is curated by the General Delegate of the Venice Critics’ Week Giona A. Nazzaro together with the members of the selection committee Luigi Abiusi, Alberto Anile, Beatrice Fiorentino and Massimo Tria. The 2018 official selection includes:


A kasha / The Roundup by Hajooj Kuka (Sudan, South Africa, Qatar, Germany)
Adam und Evelyn / Adam & Evelyn by Andreas Goldstein (Germany)
Bêtes blondes / Blonde Animals by Alexia Walther, Maxime Matray (France)
Lissa ammetsajjel / Still Recording by Saaed Al Batal, Ghiath Ayoub (Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, France)
M by Anna Eriksson (Finland)
Saremo giovani e bellissimi / We’ll Be Young and Beautiful by Letizia Lamartire (Italy)
Ti imaš noć / You Have the Night by Ivan Salatic (Montenegro, Serbia, Qatar)

Special event out of competition

Opening film
Tumbbad by Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad (India, Sweden)   
Special event out of competition

Closing film
Dachra by Abdelhamid Bouchnak (Tunisia)

Visit for more information

- Jeannine Guilyard

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Director Marco Tullio Giordana on his Art & Muses

If you’re an aficionado of international cinema, then chances are you have seen the films of Marco Tullio Giordana. His work is not for the faint of heart. It is dramatic, in your face and often reflects the brutality of society and the prices one must pay to hold on to his or her values.

Giordana’s most successful films outside Italy are One Hundred Steps (I cento passi) and The Best of Youth (La meglio gioventù). One Hundred Steps is the true story of Peppino Impastato, a Sicilian activist who spoke out against the mafia. He paid the ultimate price for his activism and to this day, is regarded as a beloved hero among Sicilians. The Best of Youth was originally a television mini-series but was so well-received, it was edited down to six hours for a theatrical release. Not many films could hold an audience for six hours, but I saw the film in a regular theater in upstate New York, not at a film festival, and people were laughing, crying and enjoying the emotional rollercoaster of the characters and compelling story. 

Tullio Giordana recently presented his latest film in New York at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. You could say that his new film Nome di donna is a film for the times as it deals with sexual harassment in the workplace. But when he began to work on the screenplay, the #MeToo movement hadn’t yet begun.

When I first sat down with him and we began talking while I was getting my camera ready to record our interview, I found that we had a lot in common in terms of our tastes in cinema. It was such an honor and a thrill to talk with this director whose films I’ve been watching for nearly 20 years. Please note that I edited very little of our interview. It’s not every day that we talk with a living icon of cinema, so I didn’t want to cut anything he said.

As we were just chatting here, you told me about your admiration for the silent film actress Louise Brooks. How did that begin?
When I started to see lots of historical films from the heritage of all the classic movies, I watched Pabst’s Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl; and Augusto Genina’s Prix de Beaute, with this extraordinary American actress. I fell madly in love with her because she was so electric and so different from other actresses of her time. I love her unique look with the way her hair is cut and the female characters she portrays. There was a famous Italian designer of comix, Guido Crepax, who took Louise Brooks as his model for his most famous creation called Valentina.

A scene from Augusto Genina's Prix de Beaute

(Click here to check out my interview with the president of the Louise Brooks Society about her presence in Italian culture.)

Which other actresses do you admire from classic movies?
There are those who actresses like Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. But for me, Louise Brooks has something special and extraordinary. What's special moreover, is one of the rare interviews of Louise Brooks for Italian television. In the interview, she proved to be very radical, very smart with severe judgements of the industry but also very understanding, very human. I always admired her very much.

Watch a clip from our interview..

You’ve made these epic films that document important moments in Italian history such as the story of Peppino Impastato in One Hundred Steps and the tumultuous decades of political unrest in The Best of Youth. What is it about these periods in time that inspire you to make films about them?
In the case of One Hundred Steps and Best of Youth, they are films set in the past because they center on a story that took place in the 60s and 70s. The Best of Youth also begins in the 60s and ends in 2000. They are films about memory in the sense that they revisit key figures of our history that risk being forgotten if they are not revived. For those films. For Nome di donna, it’s different. Even if inspired by an event that happened many years ago, it touches a problem that today we talk a lot about. But when we started to write the screenplay, no one spoke willingly of harassment in the business world and so it is a very serious problem. I’ve always felt that this behavior was detestable, those who take advantage of power. Here is the double aim- to preserve the memory and to fight an injustice. I would say maybe these two things are the common ground for these films. I am not a militant of any party or any association. For me, the most interesting thing is the human part, the part where people are hurt by a socially incorrect behavior because they feel alone. It does not seem to me that a film can repair the loneliness but maybe things can change because it widens the awareness of a problem and they may no longer feel alone thanks to the presence of the characters at the cinema.

One of my favorite, most memorable characters in all of cinema is Jasmine Trinca’s character Giorgia from The Best of Youth. Tell me about the development of that character and your collaboration with Trinca. 
Giorgia is a character who appears relatively little in the film because in the first episode or the first part, the two brothers separate- one starting to go on to continue his initiation journey in northern Europe and the other decides to become a military officer. At the beginning of his contract, he meets this disturbed girl, Giorgia, taken away from a psychiatric hospital, and then returned. It was a time when in Italy, they held these people as if they were criminals. She then reappears in the film after her recovery. I was very much impressed with due to the interpreter Jasmine Trinca, who at the time had made a film with Nanni Moretti (The Son’s Room) but did not want to continue her career as an actress. She wanted to continue her studies but I was very impressed by her performance in Nanni Moretti’s film and insisted that she did this character.

Tell me more about Giorgia.
She is very deep, very communicative. There is something in the character of Giorgia that very attractive to the viewers. Jasmine Trinca interpreted this character that has reached the point where you can either go crazy or you can begin the road to recovery. That is something that each of us has gone through because we all have been in a moment at some time in our life and maybe even more than one time when we were at the point of saying, ‘I am suffering too much. I cannot do this anymore.’ But despite all this, Jasmine Trinca made the character fascinating, seductive and beautiful. After Giorgia resurfaces, she is present in some fundamental turning points of the story. It is she who convinces Nicola, when he discovered the photograph, to say 'I'm going to look for the photographer.' And then Nicola goes looking for him and discovers that his brother had a child, and so on, and so on. So she began as a character without hope but in reality offered hope. So she is a very strong character. I am very fond of this figure.

When I spoke with Jasmine Trinca in 2008, I asked her about this character and working with Tullio Giordana on his epic film. 
“It really was a great experience for me. The character that I played, Giorgia, is always in my heart. I started acting in 2001 with Nanni Morretti's film, The Son’s Room. I really thought that I was totally out of the business after that film. I just didn't want to be an actress. It was a beautiful experience, but I wanted to leave it at that. I didn't want to make a career out of acting. I still wanted to study archeology. So I stopped acting and went to college. Then the director of The Best of Youth, Marco Tullio Giordana, contacted me about playing the character, Giorgia. He told me about her, and I thought that she was really remarkable. I felt that it wouldn't be right to say no, so I accepted the role. Marco and I worked closely to build this character, and in doing so, I realized that acting is in my fabric. It's a part of me.”

(Click here to read our full interview)

Going beyond Giorgia, the women in your films, who most times are in supporting roles, are strong, multi-dimensional characters. Such is the case in your first film that I saw here at Open Roads in 2001, One Hundred Steps. The mother of Peppino Impastato, (played by Lucia Sardo) made a lasting impression on me.
As the saying goes, behind every man there is a woman. More often, it may be the figure of the mother or it may be a love. But it is very difficult for me to think of the man alone because it seems to me that something is missing. The most interesting thing is that this figure completes him as if he were missing a part of light in a photograph. So even when in a film, when the main character is a man, I don’t want the women there as the side dish. They are not the fries. I want them to be important- the main dish.

And speaking in general to the supporting characters…One aspect of your work that I have always appreciated is their presence and significance. They have a lot of influence on the main protagonist. 
I thank you for telling me this. It is a huge pleasure to hear because I spend a lot of time on casting and looking for supporting actors because I think the supporting actors can destroy a scene if they are bad or make it work if they are good. I have never understood good actors who are afraid of the best actors. I have always appreciated the actors who love the challenges because you are better. But the important thing is that they are good for me. There is no difference between the protagonist and the supporting actors. I'll tell you that even the extras are important. The faces must be right. I really like to find these actors in the theater or maybe in the street as a bit in the tradition of Italian cinema, in the tradition of the neorealist cinema, but above all in theater because in theater, the actors have a formation, an awareness, a beautiful voice that for me is very important.

- Jeannine Guilyard

Celebrities Step Up for Child Refugees

With the news of another refugee child found dead today in the waters of the Mediterranean, humanitarian efforts are needed and appreciated more than ever. One movement that is contributing to children throughout the world, especially those affected by the Syrian War, is Every Child is My Child, an association that began shortly after the bombing of a children’s hospital in Aleppo. The association is run by a group of Italian celebrities, which include Anna Foglietta, Edoardo Leo, Veronica De Laurentiis, Marco Bonini, Paola Cortellesi, Valerio Mastandrea and many others. The goal is to bring attention to the plight of children not only in Syria but across the world as they have become refugees and try to integrate into the culture of different countries.

Actors Andrea Bosca and Anna Foglietta participated in a press conference to talk about the movement at the Casa del Cinema in Rome. There, I asked them about the latest mission of Every Child is My Child. Foglietta explained, “This year, we are concentrating on the children of Syria because we feel they are in emergency. We are looking for a way to sensitize people, especially the children. We visit schools and talk about how beautiful With the news that bombs are being dropped on integration is, how important it is to be grateful for what is right and to commit ourselves to defending children against the brutality of war, the poverty caused by war and also the cultural poverty."

Andrea Bosca spoke about the movement's support of Onlus/ONG,  organizations committed to defending the rights of women and children throughout the world. There has been a lot of talk about them in recent weeks due to the ongoing refugee debate in Italy. 

"Every Child is my Child is a mission. It’s a group of artists who came together on a social network and then we have the mission of supporting children all over the world with very concrete and precise missions. We support ONLUS or ONG with their specific projects because of the wellness of the children in the world. It's started when the Syrian attack on a hospital killed a lot of people, especially children. That was the spark of the movement. And right now, we organize as an association with the website, which So, people can donate, follow our shows, our books because we sell books, also."

In addition to the website, you can follow Every Child is my Child on social media- TwitterFacebook and Instagram where they post updates of the movement’s progress and future projects.

- Jeannine Guilyard

Founder and Director Franco Rina Talks CinamadaMare

The 2018 edition of Cinemadamare, a program which offers hands-on filmmaking to the directors of tomorrow, is underway. The program gives up-and-coming filmmakers the freedom and equipment amid the stunning sea and landscapes of the Italian peninsula to explore their creativity. CinemadaMare is aimed at young people from all over the world who participate in the program by visiting numerous locations throughout Italy to make films. Last year when I traveled to Matera to talk with Franco Rina, the founder and director of the program, participants made 16 short films in just one week. Upon completion, the filmmakers presented their works in a special community screening followed by an awards ceremony. 

Rina and I covered a lot of ground during our conversation and we’ll hear from him later in regard to filmmaking in Basilicata. For now, he shares the nuts and bolts of CinemadaMare and why it’s so important to aspiring filmmakers. 

So let’s start at the beginning. Why did you start this program?
It started in 2003 as a need to bring together young filmmakers, to give a voice to young filmmakers, to offer a screen to young filmmakers and to offer an audience to young filmmakers. By young filmmakers, I mean all those people who have not yet entered the film industry and the cinema market, which often are also prey to exploitation by some events, which use them to create publicity and catwalks for their friends and their fellow filmmakers. They often give awards to each other. So there was the need to create a place without a red carpet, without champagne and without special guests.

How did you come up with the name, CinemadaMare, which in English, translates to Cinema from the Sea?
As you can see in the name, there is no reference to a particular place. We call it CinemadaMare because it was born near the sea, in Nova Siri in Basilicata, and because it plays on the word precisely of the sea and of love. People are drawn to this program from all over the world due to their love of cinema- those who love to make it and those who love to watch it. 
How has the festival evolved since the first edition in 2003?
Over time it has grown dramatically because it now lasts three months and runs all over Italy. We host more than three hundred filmmakers from over sixty countries, from all continents, and we started a great relationship with universities and film schools from all over the world- important schools and universities ranging from the Sorbonne to the University of Jakarta, Los Angeles, Barcelona, ​​Moscow, Brussels, South Africa, Morocco, Sudan and Kenya.

How are the participants chosen?
We have bilateral agreements with universities, which contemplate some work we do together during the year and then during CinemadaMarein the summer. The universities send their student filmmakers here. We host them for free so as to make a kind of permanent campus of filmmakers.  

The 2018 participants have gathered in the Basilicata town of Genzano di Lucania with director Franco Rina and filmmaker Mimmo Calopresti (pictured above). Click here for more information about CinemadaMare and to follow the 2018 adventures!  

- Jeannine Guilyard

Actress Lucia Mascino on her Collaboration with Francesca Comencini

Actress Lucia Mascino presented Francesca Comencini’s Stories of Love that Cannot Belong to This World at the 18th edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Open Roads: New Italian Cinema.

Adapted from Comencini's book, the film offers an intimate look at how one woman deals with the end of a relationship. Although many would not have the same seemingly desperate reaction, it's the delusional or even hopeful motivation for which she stayed that we can all understand on some level. 

The film follows Claudia (Lucia Mascino) and Flavio (Thomas Trabacchi), two very different people but deeply in love nonetheless. Their tumultuous, passionate relationship is driven by powerful feelings, but they are simply not good for each other. Their sincere love, affection and attraction keep them emotionally and physically attached and unable to leave even though they often argue. However, an indifferent comment made by Claudia is Flavio's last straw and he finally breaks away. The film is a series of flashbacks woven with moments in the present. There are surprises and unexpected twists. At times, it gets frustrating to watch Claudia’s desperation and codependency, but it’s worth staying in the trenches to witness her gratifying revelation at the end.

Mascino’s performance is exceptional and she has received numerous praises and awards for the interpretation of her character. Claudia’s emotional rollercoaster takes her to extreme highs and lows. Although Claudia has an eccentric personality, she is relatable because there are many layers to her. You will not identify with all of them, but as Mascino reveals the complexities and idiosyncrasies of her character, you will find common ground.

I spoke with Mascino while she was in New York promoting the film. She talked about her affection for this character and her joy in working with Comencini.

Tell me about your character in this film.
The film, Stories of Love that Cannot Belong to This World, by Francesca Comencini, tells the story of a character that in my opinion, many women can relate to. This character named Claudia is a university professor, but beyond the craft has an emotional temperament. In my opinion, her temperament can be characterized as great passion, great sentimental generosity and therefore also has a great commitment to those close to her. She is an exaggerated, tumultuous woman who is dealing with a huge emotional break. There is a story of separation from a great love. However, the beautiful thing about this film is that it tells something positive because it’s a story of how we transform ourselves as we bring our life back into our own hands after giving it to another person. It is a film about rebirth and this character embodies all the feelings from the most funny to the more dramatic during this emotional evolution. I really like this character.

How did you prepare for this role? For example, did you reach inside yourself to understand how you related to Claudia?
When I read the script, I liked it so much and I thought I did not want to make a character built from the outside. I wanted to approach it slowly. There were many months before shooting because I had received the screenplay in November and we shot the film in May. So during those five months, I would think of one phrase from the movie rather than thinking about the whole movie. For instance, while I was taking a shower, a sentence would come to mind and I’d then have an understanding of that phrase. I tried to approach the character in this way, slowly, because I felt it was the best way to honor and approach a true story.

What was it like working with Francesca Comencini. How did your collaboration come about?
We did not know each other when she asked me to audition but we wanted to give it a try. She told me to throw myself into the character and to exaggerate, not to be afraid in the audition. So I did what she said and I found out immediately after the audition that I had been chosen for the part. I was very happy to work with Francesca because I had seen her films. In particular, I had seen Un spazio bianco (The White Space) with Margherita Buy. That was a wonderful film. I would have never imagined doing a movie with her because she is a director that I knew but she did not know me. How was it to work with her? Let's say this collaboration allowed us to work well together. The story is also a bit of her own story even though she wrote the screenplay with two other writers, and so there was a delicate situation. It was easy for me to work with Francesca because in a way, we are similar, and she loves actors very much. She always said, ‘My beloved actors!’ And this is important. 

Stories of Love that Cannot Belong to This World is still being shown at film festivals throughout the world. We'll keep you updated on distribution in North America. In the meantime, you can watch Lucia Mascino opposite Christian De Sica in Caterina Carone's Storm Warning (Fraulein- Una Fiaba d'Inverno), which is available to stream on Amazon.

- Jeannine Guilyard

Filippo Luna of Lo Scambio on His Roles & Being Sicilian

Canada’s annual Contemporary Italian Film Festival recently showed a riveting film that has earned success in Italy and abroad. Inspired by true events, Salvo Cuccia’s Lo Scambio takes place in Palermo during the mid-90s when violent organized crime was at its peak. The film centers on a husband and wife in their mid-40s. He is a police commissioner consumed by his work and she longs for a child, becoming obsessed with the story of a boy who was kidnapped by the mafia in retaliation for his father becoming an informant.  Cuccia presents the story of the commissioner’s work and the never-ending, lonely days of his wife in parallel sequences of delusion and stark reality. Cuccia said of this surreal style,  “I wanted to make a movie about a crime that really happened, but that was more than just the account of a news report of the time. I was interested in exploring the nature of the characters and the situations in order to bring out a drama that stood on its own feet, above and beyond the actual facts, since the starting elements were very strong and the cause and effect relationships were evident. I also wanted to go in the direction of a dark story, in which the appearances reveal cracks that become increasingly evident in a game of disclosures.” The cast includes Filippo Luna, Barbara Tabita, Paolo Briguglia and Maziar Firouzi. The screenplay was co-written by Salvo Cuccia, his daughter Federica Cuccia and Marco Alessi.

I recently met the star of the film, Filippo Luna, while he was in New York promoting his newest work Sicilian Ghost Story by Antonio Piazza and Fabio Grassadonia at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. Luna grew up in San Giuseppe Jato, a village in the Province of Palermo, with his father Liborio and mother, Maria. He graduated in 1992 from Sicily’s Academy of Ancient Drama (The Italian Academy). He pursued his acting career in Rome, but returned to Sicily where he settled in Palermo and worked in theater. It proved to be the right decision because his career took off, paving the way for a smooth transition into cinema. His feature film debut was in Emanuele Crialese’s 2006 Golden Door. From there, he went back and forth between cinema and stage, working with a number of prominent directors including Andrea Cardinale, Ficarra & Picone, Donatella Maiorca and Pasquale Scimeca. In 2013 he starred and was also a dialogue coach in Piazza and Grassadonia’s Salvo, which won an award in the Critics' Week at Cannes. He portrayed Massimo Ciancimino in Sabina Guzzanti’s La Trattativa, which premiered at the 2014 Venice Film Festival. Grateful for the opportunities, Luna calls Palermo his “Little America”.

Lo Scambio is one of my personal favorites. Having seen it at the 2016 Bella Basilicata Film Festival where Cuccia and his producer Eleonora Cordaro presented it, I never forgot it. The story is captivating and the performances intense. There is a fine line between fantasy and reality, which is Cuccia’s signature style of filmmaking. I spoke with Luna about his character, his pride in being Sicilian and the rich, tumultuous history of Palermo. Our interview was originally done in Italian, so both versions are included.

Tell me about your character in Lo Scambio. In my opinion, this commissioner is one of the most complex characters in cinema.
The commissioner of the film Lo Scambio is a paranoid and disturbed man. He is evil. He is fascinated by capturing you with his eyes and then slaughtering you with his own hands.. while he continues to stare into your eyes. He is a man like many, an unsuspecting man that hides horrible secrets. The film is based on a true story. It is a story of the mafia, but our focus on the characters and the story itself was more psychological than real.

Parlami del tuo personaggio nel film Lo Scambio. Secondo me, questo commissario di polizia è tra i personaggi più complessi nel cinema.
Il commissario del film Lo Scambio, è un uomo paranoico e disturbato, è il male, è affascinante da prenderti con lo sguardo e poi sgozzarti con le sue stesse mani, mentre continua a fissarti negli occhi. È un uomo come tanti, è un insospettabile che nasconde orribili segreti. Il film è tratto da una storia vera e una storia di mafia, ma il nostro sguardo  verso i personaggi e la storia stessa è stato piu psicologico che realistico.

How would you describe the relationship and the rapport between the commissioner and his wife? And then (without giving too much away) what is the reason for him taking his wife in the car after the personal tragedy hits?
The story is that of Leoluca Bagarella and Vincenzina Marchese. I believe that he took her away to a place where only he could find her. After all, for him, she was the most dear thing he owned. He felt that he had lost everything and it was not a pain that could be shared.

Puoi descrivere la storia e il rapporto del commissario con la moglie ed (non voglio dire troppo) il motivo per la sua decisione dopo la tragedia. 
La storia è quella di Leoluca Bagarella e Vincenzina Marchese, io credo che lui l'abbia portata via in un posto dove solo lui la potesse ritrovare, del resto per lui era la cosa piu cara che possedeva. Aveva perso tutto, non era dolore che si poteva condividere.

Being of Sicilian origins, what are your thoughts on working with so many directors that make films about the mafia?
Being Sicilian, for me, is a blessing but almost always, it exposes you to mafia roles or bad characters. This is risky because you could fall into the cliché. One is fortunate to be directed by experienced filmmakers that have a clear vision of their project. This puts you on the right track to giving each character his personality and nuances.

Come sei Siciliano, parlami di recitare per tanti registi che raccontano della mafia.. 
Essere Siciliano, per me è una benedizione, ma quasi sempre ti  espone a ruoli dil mafioso o cattivo e questo è rischioso, si potrebbe cadere nel clichet. È una grande fortuna essere diretto di registi cosi importanti che hanno una visione chiara del loro progetto, questo ti mette sulla strada giusta per regalare ad ogni personaggio il suo carattere, le sue sfumature.

We’ve seen so many organized crime stories lately.. tell me instead about the beauty of Palermo and the pride you have for your Sicilian origins.
Palermo is an open-air stage. Here, everything coexists and transforms itself enriching each day. Palermo is a beating heart, and as I said, being Sicilian is a privilege. It’s a land that will always leave you speechless and will nevertheless offer an opportunity.

Raccontami la bellezza di Palermo e l’orgoglio che hai per le tue origini Siciliani. 
Palermo è un palcoscenico a cielo aperto, qui tutto convive e si trasforma arricchendosi ogni giorno, Palermo è un cuore pulsante, e come ti dicevo essere Siciliano è un privilegio, È una terra che saprà sempre lasciarti a bocca aperta e saprà comunque offriti un opportunità. 

What do you hope to communicate to the world about Palermo through your roles?
Telling stories like the one told in Sicilian Ghost Story allows you not to forget, to have a memory, to always understand which side is good. This is why we make films about our saddest stories- so as not to forget.

Cosa vuoi sperare nel comunicare al mondo, raccontando Palermo attraverso i tuoi ruoli?
Raccontare storie come quella raccontata in Sicilian Ghost Story ti permette di non dimenticare, di avere una memoria, per capire sempre da quale parte sta il bene. È per questo che si fanno i film dalla nostra storia piu triste, non per celebrare me per non dimenticare.

Mimmo Calopresti: A Filmmaker in Search of the Truth

Through tragedy, corruption, friendship and love, Mimmo Calopresti’s characters forge through life with dignity and hope.

Born in Calabria, raised in Torino and currently living in Rome, Calopresti is known for his direct style of filmmaking that treads finely between reality and fiction. Often drawn from his own point-of-view, he documents life-changing events whether tragic or historic. Calopresti began his filmmaking career with documentaries and short films and then in 1996, made his feature film debut with La Seconda Volta (The Second Time) starring Nanni Moretti.

He followed up with two successes- the 1998 drama La parola amore esiste (The Word Love Exists), which recounts the obsessive love of an emotionally fragile woman, and the 2000 film Il rumore del mare (The Sound of the Sea), which was most likely taken from Calopresti's own life experiences. The story of two teenagers on the verge of adulthood and discovering their independence, Rosario, from the south of Italy goes to live in the north, thanks to his friend Luigi, also from the south but working in Torino. He wants to give Rosario a chance at a different way of life. 

Calopresti recently presented  a selection of his works at the Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. The screening was organized by filmmaker and professor Elisabetta Sanino D'Amanda of the Rochester Institute of Technology. I caught up with him after the screening and asked him about his own experience of having origins in the south while living in the north. He mentioned the significance of his film's title, Il rumore del mare. "The title of my film, Il rumore del mare was born from the poetry Lavorare, lavorare, lavorare (“Work, Work, Work,” a famous poem by Dino Campana). Torino has always been a place of work. My father worked in a factory. I don’t mean it as a negative thing. It was positive. The south is the joy of my childhood. The sea. I prefer the sound of the sea. My life has always been divided into these words- busy working and being in the middle of beauty. I’ve been very lucky having two directions, two possibilities of living different ways of life. Now I live in Rome but when I return to the north, I find a different Italy. There are two Italys- the North and the South are still divided.

The autobiographical tale La felicita non costa niente (Happiness for free), which he presented at the 2003 edition of Lincoln Center's Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, follows 40-year-old Sergio after a near death experience opens his eyes to his mortality. This awakening reveals some hard truths that he must face. So he decides to just leave it all behind and start over. Before long, he realizes that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

His second Open Roads presentation, which he also presented at the Eastman Museum, was the 2009 film La fabbrica dei Tedeschi (The German’s Factory), which features vignettes with a number of actors including Silvio Orlando and Valeria Golino. Following the aftermath of a deadly fire that took place in 2007 at the ThyssenKrupp, an iron and steel plant in Torino, the film traces the lives and moments leading up to the evening in December when tragedy struck. Calopresti talks with family members of the victims, who are visibly in mourning, but looking for justice as they recount the factory’s known safety concerns and dangerous working conditions.

He also presented his 2015 film Uno per tutti (One for All) at the Eastman Museum. Adapted from the novel by Gaetano Savatteri, Calopresti directed the film and played a supporting role. Uno per tutti stars Fabrizio Ferracane and Isabella Ferrari as a couple forced to deal with the repercussions of a crime committed by their teenage son. The film explores the complexities of a longtime friendship between people who take different paths in life. Speaking to this theme, Calopresti said, “The idea was to tell a story of friendship- how to be friends, what you need to protect yourself, what you need to go ahead in life or to face life. Sometimes you do not end up being together. It’s difficult to stay together whether you’re talking about a father and son, a couple or friends. Everyone has a difficulty.”

A fascinating work is his 2016 documentary, La Fabbrica Fantasma, which speaks to the growing global problem of counterfeit products often containing toxic materials. Calopresti travels through Italy and Europe, visiting the ports where the merchandise arrives often from China, and then to the stores and outdoor markets where the items are sold. He delves into the financial motivation behind the growing phenomenon and iidentifies the characteristics which validate a product’s authenticity, revealing if it is indeed a fake. It’s a timely, important film to see especially if you have children as toxic materials are often used to make counterfeit toys and dolls. The closing scene is especially poignant and poetic as we see the world through a child's eyes. She is protected and nurtured, playing with dolls in a museum while statistics of the counterfeit industry and its perils are displayed on screen.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Marcello Fonte in a scene from Aspromonte: La Terra deli Ultimi
He is currently finishing work on his latest film Aspromonte: La Terra deli Ultimi (Land of the Forgotten). It was shot in Africo, Calabria and has a stellar cast that includes Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Marcello Fonte, Francesco Colella, Marco Leonardi, Sergio Rubini and Fabrizio Gifuni. It is slated for a 2019 release. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can keep up with Mimmo Calopresti on Instagram.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Major Announcement for Paolo Sorrentino's followup to The Young Pope

It's been announced that John Malkovich will star in The New Pope, Paolo Sorrentino’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed HBO limited series The Young Pope. Jude Law will be back to resume his role as the eccentric American pontiff Lenny Belardo. Production will begin in Italy in November.

Monday, July 2, 2018

2018 Giffoni Film Fest News

The 48th edition of the Giffoni Film Festival is slowly being revealed with the shorts lineups just announced. It was announced today that Italian cinema stars Matilda de Angelis, Marco Ponti, Francesco Scianna and Ilenia Pastorali will grace the signature Blue Carpet and meet their fans. 

Showcasing cinema dedicated to children and teens, the first edition of the Giffoni Film Festival took place in 1971 in its namesake city of Giffoni Valle Piana, which is located in the region of Campania. The festival has served not only as an event to watch films, but also as a place for youngsters to learn about the filmmaking process. The French master François Truffaut is quoted saying “Of all the film festivals, Giffoni is the most necessary.” Perhaps that has something to do with its renowned Masterclasses. The festival has hosted numerous extinguished guests over the years including Robert De Niro, Sergio Leone, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Alberto Sordi. 

The shorts program has already been announced, and one interesting film that stands out is Alessandro Marinelli's documentary, Basileus- La Scuola dei Rei (Basileus- The School of Kings). Set in the Federico Fellini school in San Basilio (Rome), the film illustrates the courses taught to a group of teenagers and the meaning of being teachers in an unusual context such as that of suburban schools. It is a journey into everyday school life through voices and faces that describe an incredibly vast world to be discovered that exudes the vitality of students, hopes, dreams, but which is also full of difficulties, fears and uncertainty of the future. In this microcosm, a strong and unusual relationship emerges between teachers and students, all different from one another in their identities and personalities.

The complete program will be announced on July 10. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates. 

- Jeannine Guilyard

In Conversation with Director Cecilia Pignocchi

Filmmakers Arthur Couvat and  Cecilia Pignocchi It’s unusual for a first-time filmmaker to be recognized by a high-profile, international fi...