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Mimmo Verdesca's Portrait of Alida Valli Streams One Day Only in the US

A new documentary about actress Alida Valli will be available in the United States on Sunday, March 21 through the virtual film festival, Filming Italy Los Angeles. Contemporary actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno is the voice of Alida Valli in Mimmo Verdesca's new film, “Alida” aka “Alida Valli: In Her Own Words” on the Italian icon whose influence reached far beyond Italian shores.

The film consists of photos, 8mm home movies, archival video from Istituto Luce Cinecittà, Rai Teche, and Rome's film school Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia as well as scenes from her most memorable films, which include Mario Soldati's "Little Ancient World," Alfred Hitchcock's "The Paradine Case," Carol Reed's "The Third Man" alongside Orson Wells, Luchino Visconti's "Senso" and Bernardo Bertolucci's "1900." The film also features testimonies of those who knew and loved her. From her family to her closest friends to the great artists who worked with her, such as Bertolucci, Vanessa Redgrave, Roberto Benigni, Charlotte Rampling, Marco Tullio Giordana and many others. Through these mediums, Verdesca's documentary showcases an extraordinary, international career that spanned 70 years in both cinema and theater.


I contacted Verdesca to ask him about the making of this film. He was very generous and forthcoming with his answers. 


Why did you want to make this documentary?

I felt the curiosity and the need to tell the story of one of the greatest and most famous actresses of Italian cinema, as no one had ever done, through the words of her private writings, letters and diaries, which, for the first time, come to life, becoming the “narrator" of the film. It's a new, intriguing and unique story in which Alida's thoughts are protagonists, telling of an extraordinary life, divided between great joys and enormous pains, made up of difficult and conflicting choices, but always sincere and in the name of love. These thoughts and experiences formed the character of Alida, first as a woman and then as an actress, in an artistic path, which was only the reflection of a mysterious and fascinating personality, often deliberately impenetrable. I wanted to show the woman behind the character and to bring out her essence. Hence the choice to use only her name "Alida" as the title of the film. These desires arose from the privilege of being the first director to deal with the immense personal archive of Alida Valli and having discovered and understood the depth of her soul, thanks to meeting with her family, her nephew Pierpaolo De Mejo, her daughter-in-law Maria Laura and her second son Larry. This vast, unprecedented and precious personal heritage can now be relived and shared by the new generations, allowing them, through my film, to discover one of the most important and representative actresses of our country, of our cinema, of our history.

 

Tell me a little about the journey of doing it and the most interesting and moving things you learned about Alida Valli.
It was truly a journey, an exciting journey, which lasted three years, spent in the incredible life of Alida Valli, in search of her soul. To do this, I had to completely immerse myself in all of her unpublished writings in order to understand the deeper meaning of every single and wonderful word, to then render it in the most sincere and faithful way possible. This was achieved through the interpretation of Giovanna Mezzogiorno's voice, one of our best actresses who shares not only talent but also a certain rigor and a certain pride of mind with Valli. Her intense and decisive voice, at times melancholic, accompanies us in a story that I have enriched with so much other repertoire material, never shown before. 


I tried to give back to the public the many emotions I experienced personally in telling Alida's story, such as her youthful love for the Turin aviator Carlo Cugnasca. It was a great love story, which ended tragically with his death in the war in 1941. The letters they exchanged are imbued with love, passion, tenderness and infinite respect. The last letters are moving, when Carlo was in Africa to fight. They're writings to which Alida and Carlo confide their fears and the hope of seeing each other again soon. Heartbreaking and desperate are those to which Alida received no answer, because Carlo was already dead, but she did not know it yet. Alida will then call her eldest son by the name of Carlo.


In your opinion, what is Alida Valli's legacy?
Alida Valli will always live in her famous interpretations that have stood the test of time. Her talent, skill, beauty and charm will continue to thrill viewers of every past and future generation around the world. Alida Valli will remain, especially thanks to my film, the example of a strong, independent, modern woman, faithful to her values and to the people she loved, "special" as her son Larry defines her in my film. In short, a great woman, simply respectable.

Verdesca added that the wonderful journey of making this film that was "undertaken with so much passion and determination" is shared with his collaborators and with all the producers of the film, Venicefilm, Kublai Film, Istituto Luce Cinecittà, MiC, Rai Cinema, Fenix ​​Entertainment, Union of Istrians and with the collaboration of the CSC - Cineteca Nazionale, which allowed him to make the film he wanted. 

"Alida" was selected for the Cannes Film Festival 2020 in the Cannes Classics section, presented at the Rome Film Fest 2020 and was nominated for the 2021 Nastri d'Argento as "Best Documentary on Cinema.

"I am really proud that the film is traveling the world in numerous festivals and I am happy that today it's also landed in Los Angeles, thanks to Tiziana Rocca who chose it and wanted fit or her prestigious Filming Italy Los Angeles," Verdesca said.


"Alida" will be available though midnight tonight Pacific Time. Click here to stream it. 




Filmmaker Mimmo Verdasca

Intervista in Italiano


Perché hai voluto realizzare questo documentario?

Ho sentito la curiosità e la necessità di raccontare la storia di una delle più grandi e celebri attrici del cinema italiano, come nessuno aveva mai fatto, attraverso le parole dei suoi scritti privati, lettere e diari, che, per la prima volta, prendono vita, diventando l’“io narrante” del film. Un racconto quindi nuovo, intrigante e unico, in cui i pensieri di Alida sono protagonisti, per narrare una vita straordinaria, divisa tra grandi gioie ed enormi dolori, fatta di scelte difficili e contrastanti, ma sempre sincere e in nome dell’amore, la cui ricerca ha condizionato e formato il carattere di Alida, prima come donna e poi come attrice, in un percorso artistico, che è stato solo il riflesso di una personalità misteriosa e affascinante, spesso volutamente impenetrabile. Ho voluto raccontare la donna dietro il personaggio per tirarne fuori l’essenza, (da qui la scelta di usare solo il suo nome "Alida" come titolo del film), nascono dal privilegio di essere il primo regista a confrontarsi con l’immenso archivio personale di Alida Valli e aver scoperto e compreso la profondità della sua anima, grazie all’incontro con la sua famiglia, suo nipote Pierpaolo De Mejo, sua nuora Maria Laura e il suo secondo figlio Larry. Questo vasto, inedito e prezioso patrimonio personale ora può rivivere ed essere condiviso anche dalle nuove generazioni, permettendo loro, attraverso il mio film, di scoprire una delle attrici più importanti e rappresentative del nostro paese, del nostro cinema, della nostra storia.

 

Raccontami un po’ il viaggio di farlo e delle cose più interessanti e commoventi che hai imparato di Alida Valli.

E' stato davvero un viaggio, un viaggio emozionante, durato tre anni, nella vita incredibile di Alida Valli, alla ricerca della sua anima. Per farlo ho dovuto immergermi completamente nella lettura di tutti i suoi scritti inediti, comprendere il significato più profondo di ogni singola e meravigliosa parola, per farla poi rivivere nel modo più sincero e fedele possibile, attraverso l'interpretazione della voce di Giovanna Mezzogiorno, una delle nostre migliori attrici che con la Valli condivide, oltre che il talento, anche una certo rigore e una certa fierezza d'animo. La sua voce intensa e decisa, a tratti malinconica, ci accompagna in un racconto che ho arricchito di tanto altro materiale di repertorio, mai mostrato prima. Le foto private e pubbliche, gli home movies a colori in 8mm, le immagini provenienti da archivi importanti, quali Istituto Luce, Rai Teche, Ina, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia di Roma, e poi le scene dei suoi film più memorabili, da "Piccolo Mondo Antico" a "The Paradine Case" di Hitchcock, da "The Third Man" al fianco di Orson Wells a Senso di Luchino Visconti, fino a Strategia del Ragno e Novecento di Bernardo Bertolucci e tantissimi altri, in una carriera internazionale durata 70 anni, vissuta intensamente tra cinema e teatro. 


Non mancano anche le testimonianze di chi l'ha conosciuta e amata. Dai sui famigliari agli amici più stretti, fino ai grandi artisti che hanno lavorato con lei, come Bernardo Bertolucci, Vanessa Redgrave, Roberto Benigni, Charlotte Rampling, Marco Tullio Giordana, Margarethe von Trotta, Thierry Frémaux, Dario Argento, Piero Tosi, e tanti altri. 


Ho cercato di restituire al pubblico le tante emozioni che ho vissuto personalmente nel raccontare la storia di Alida, come ad esempio il suo amore giovanile per l'aviatore torinese Carlo Cugnasca. Una grande storia d'amore, conclusa tragicamente con la morte di lui in guerra nel 1941. Le lettere che si scambiavano sono intrise di amore, passione, tenerezza e rispetto infinito. Commoventi sono le ultime lettere, quando Carlo è già in Africa a combattere. Scritti a cui Alida e Carlo confidano le proprie paure e la speranza dai rivedersi presto. Strazianti e disperate sono quelle a cui Alida non riceveva risposta, perché Carlo era già morto, ma lei non lo sapeva ancora. Alida poi chiamerà con il nome di Carlo il suo primogenito. 


Naturalmente tengo anche a precisare che questo "viaggio meraviglioso", intrapreso con tanta passione e determinazione, l'ho condiviso con tutti i miei collaboratori e con tutti i produttori del film, Venicefilm, Kublai Film, Istituto Luce Cinecittà, MiC, Rai Cinema, Fenix Entertainment, Unione degli Istriani e con la collaborazione del CSC - Cineteca Nazionale, che mi hanno consentito di realizzare il film che volevo. "Alida" inoltre è strato selezionato al Festival di Cannes 2020 nella sezione Cannes Classics, presentato con successo alla Festa del Cinema di Roma 2020, ed è stato candidato ai Nastri d'Argento 2021 come "miglior documentario sul cinema". 


Sono davvero orgoglioso che stia viaggiando nel mondo in numerosi festival e sono felice che oggi sia approdato anche a Los Angeles, grazie a Tiziana Rocca che lo ha scelto e voluto per il suo prestigioso FilmingItaly L.A.

 

Secondo te, qual è la sua eredità?

Alida Valli vivrà sempre nelle sue celebri interpretazioni che hanno superato la prova del tempo. Il talento, la bravura, la bellezza e il fascino continueranno ad appassionare gli spettatori di ogni generazione passate e future di tutto il mondo. Di Alida Valli resterà, anche soprattutto grazie al mio film, l'esempio di una donna forte, indipendente, moderna. Fedele ai suoi valori e alle persone che amava. "Speciale", come la definisce suo figlio Larry nel mio film. Insomma, una grande donna, semplicemente perbene.

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