Finding Camille: A father, a daughter and disappearing memories
by Vittoria Scarpa
- An intimate on-the-road film, Bindu de Stoppani's second feature is a Swiss production starring Anna Ferzetti and Luigi Diberti. Presented as part of Alice nella Città at the Rome Film Fest
The Swiss-Italian director Bindu de Stoppani is back to talk about father-daughter relationships in her second feature film, Finding Camille [+see also:
film profile], presented at the 12th Rome Film Fest as part of the Alice nella Città section. This time absent fathers are on the menu (as in her debut film Jump, which won best film and best director at the 2012 British Independent Film Festival). "It's something that I know and understand very well first-hand," says de Stoppani, also an actress and stage director who trained in London. And if there is something strong and clear that emerges from her second film, which she also wrote the screenplay for, it's the intimate, deeply-felt dimension of the story she tells.
"As in my previous film, I felt it was important to have a female protagonist. Someone who I could see myself in," says the director. Here is Camille (Anna Ferzetti), a young and insecure woman, somewhat abandoned and increasingly caught up in the care of her father Edward (Luigi Diberti), a dynamic ex-war reporter who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and thus in dire need of assistance. Camille's brother (Alessandro Tedeschi) would like to put him in a home, because deep down, their forever distant father never truly cared about them. Camille, however, clings to one last hope: a desire to take him to Bosnia, where he completed his final reportages, to try to stimulate some memories and find out who the Camille is that he has been talking about incessantly (not his own daughter), who he says he must track down at all costs.
The pair embark on a journey towards the East in an old run-down campervan with "press" scrawled across the side – once used by Edoardo for his business trips – armed with a "memory box" full of old notes, photos and addresses, and in typical on-the-road fashion, they inevitably cross paths with a third character along the way (Leo, a cellist played by Nicola Mastroberardino), who is also looking to make sense of his own trauma and who joins them on route, toppling their outlooks, especially Camille’s. In fact, there comes a time when parents should be allowed to take back the reigns of their own lives: "I was interested in the infantile projection of an ideal father, and how often that heroic vision of a parent hinders you from seeing who that person really is," states the director.
Somewhere between a drama and a comedy, de Stoppani's film also sheds light on what it means to care for an unwell father: "Those who remain by the bedside of the unwell are often exhausted and it’s not recognised," she says. "This is why I wanted Camille to be at the centre of the story, with her point of view and with all the sacrifices she has had to make for an unwell parent." And Anna Ferzetti, here in her first leading role, successfully provides Camille with the many nuances of a daughter who sees her father drifting away slowly: patient and loving, tired and exasperated. A sensitive and sincere performance (the actress lost her own father, the great actor Gabriele Ferzetti, just before shooting), to which the strong physical characterisation of Camille with her large glasses, hairstyle and somewhat childish fashion sense adds a further note of sweetness.
(Translated from Italian)
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