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Paolo Zucca • Director

"I have been inspired by Shakespeare"


- Italian filmmaker Paolo Zucca talks to us about his project L’uomo che comprò la Luna, at the Cinemed Meetings in Montpellier

Paolo Zucca  • Director

After rising to fame at Venice Days in 2013 with his debut feature L'arbitro [+see also:
film review
interview: Paolo Zucca
festival scope
film profile
, Italian director Paolo Zucca is now working on his second opus, L’uomo che comprò la Luna (lit. "The man who bought the Moon"), once again working with seasoned producer Amedeo Pagani (who has previously worked on films by Wong Kar-wai, Theo Angelopoulos, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Marco Bechis, Liv Ullmann and encore Daniel Burman). We caught up with him in Montpellier at the Cinemed Meetings of the 38th Mediterranean Film Festival

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Cineuropa: What story did you want to tell in L’Uomo che comprò la Luna?
Paolo Zucca:  Broadly speaking, it’s a comedy in which a secret agent is called upon to clear up the mystery that someone has bought the Moon in Sardinia. To do so, he must journey into the heart of Sardinian culture, a comic journey which is also a journey of self-rediscovery as he is a bit of a renegade Sardinian. And he discovers that the Moon has been offered to a young woman as part of a romantic promise. The story, which I wrote the screenplay for with Barbara Alberti and Geppi Cucciari, unfolds in an unknown era, although we see fax machines and landline telephones in the film. L'arbitro was also like that, not really rooted in a specific time period. But this time, the film won’t be a black and white one, as this complicated things for L'arbitro, not at festivals, where the film was received positively, but when it came to distribution.

What stage is the project currently at?
We’ve secured nearly two thirds of the funding we need. We’re above all waiting for a final answer from Rai with some specific figures. They’ve drawn up a development contract, but now we need to know out how much they’re planning to invest exactly and then we should be ready by the end of the year. The film is being produced by Amedeo Pagani (La Luna), who I also worked with on L'arbitro, and who is a brilliantly creative producer. Indigo Film is co-producing the film, and distribution in Italy is being handled by Lucky Red. We are also being supported by the Sardinia Region and the Italian Ministry of Culture, along with a French co-producer: Paradis Films. Filming is set to last seven weeks and should begin in April next year. We will be shooting everything in Sardinia, but we want to do the special effects in France, as they’re rather complex, most notably including a tidal wave. The budget for the film is €2 million, €200,000 of which will be spent on special effects. It’s a good budget for an Italian film, but I think in France, the same film would cost at least double the amount to make. I’m already rehearsing with the actors, the storyboard has been finalised and I almost have all my filming locations. The main character in the film will be played by Jacopo Cullin, who also featured in L'arbitro, but the cast will also include Francesco Pannofino and Giuseppe Battiston, among others.

Is this different kind of comedy easy to produce in Italy, or is there strong market bipolarisation, with big commercial comedies at one end, and strongly arthouse films at the other?
Yes this is indeed the case. And what I wanted to do, and already did with L'arbitro, was in some ways to create a form of arthouse comedy, which doesn’t really exist. You have the punchy films, which can be very good, but in which all the characters have problems (laughs), and you have straightforward comedy. My ambition is to bring the two together. As everyone knows, we had some great Italian comedies in the 1960s from Risi, Monicelli, etc., which are being revisited to some extent at the moment by Paolo Virzi. But they’re comedies with a bitter aftertaste, sometimes even tragicomedies as they portray real life, the harshness of everyday reality. I don’t work like that at all, as I do things that make you laugh one moment and not at all the next, going on to then make you laugh again. It’s a play on comedy and tragedy, a form of comedy with a few surprises here and there, a death, something a bit ugly, something a bit shocking… It’s a deliberate choice on my part and is not necessarily something that everyone will like. Without drawing comparisons of course and without jumping to any conclusions, I have been inspired by Shakespeare.

(Translated from French)

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