The Paravidino Case
by Camillo De Marco
- Texas, in the way it talks about the small things in life, attempts, as a contrast, to have an epic dimension so as to better highlight them
Fausto Paravidino is 29 years old and comes from the theatre, but has always harbored a hidden passion for cinema. He presented his first feature film, Texas [+see also:
interview: Fausto Paravidino
interview: Valeria Golino, Valerio Bin…
film profile], in the Horizons Section of the 2005 Venice Film Festival and filmmaker Giuseppe Piccioni, rock singer/filmmaker Luciano Ligabue and producer Domenico Procacci (Fandango) all believe in him. Texas takes place in the southern Piedmont region, in the countryside and among the iron and steel industries, and is an ensemble film in which emotions upset the very nature of things.
Did your experience as a playwright influence the screenplay of Texas?
The stories I write for the theatre can rarely become something else, even if there are beautiful leaps between theatre and cinema, and vice-versa. But this script, which I wrote together with Carlo Orlando and Iris Fusetti, immediately took on a cinematographic form, given that there are many different characters and the whole film is very much a landscape film. It is also a story with fast-paced editing, which makes it strictly cinematographic. After working in the theatre, we had to liberate ourselves. Moreover, the narrative form we all see the most and which inspires us is cinema. We all opt for images and speed.
The title alludes to the suburbs of the American Empire...
Up until WWII, we could call it the countryside, but then it was transformed, in fact and in spirit, into a kind of suburb of a hypothetical town. The suburb of the West’s most unanimously recognized capital: New York.
The Piedmont countryside has always been an agricultural area, which strives more and more to look like Texas, with industrialization that has nothing to do with that countryside. It’s in this contrasted landscape and in the cold winters that we discover the inhabitants’ contradictions.
The lives of the numerous characters are intertwined like a coiled rope. Was it difficult to develop the film's structure?
Seeing as how the American dream of our Piedmont's “Texans” reminded us of the Muscovite (or Parisian) dream of Chekhov's provincial characters, we therefore tried to borrow part of Chekhov's structure. The film is divided into four acts: the first one, which we wanted to be set in Texas, echoes the fourth (Italian) act and provides the framework, while the other two acts tell the story of those characters, divided into three (nearly) distinct days, told almost in real time.
Indeed, the editing of the first part of the films looks rather “Tarantino-esque”...
Because we’re in Texas! We thought of a process that would start from a "super cool" structure, with new stylistic references, in order to do away with it afterwards, bringing the film back to the real world. We did the same thing with the sound, which begins with Dolby digital, and the cinematography.
What are Texas's stylistic references?
From Ford to Scorsese, the film is full of references that don’t necessarily correspond to people's tastes. Texas, in the way it talks about the small things in life, attempts, as a contrast, to have an epic dimension so as to better highlight them. If [the characters] think they’re cowboys, it’s our job to help them become cowboys. This is the reason why the possible references are mixed and always paired together: Lost Highway and Amarcord, Goodfellas and The Man Without a Past, The Searchers and Small Change. We want to do the same thing Edward Hopper did in his painting, that is, to transform a petrol pump or a disco into a great monument for the simple reason that he put a frame around them.
Obviously, being both an actor and screenwriter helps in writing the characters.
Yes, you avoid creating characters you would never want to play. We wrote what we would want to see and created characters that had human dignity. I didn’t use any one method because the actor is a person, not a concept in and of itself. There is no one approach to directing actors. You work with concrete ideas that materialize from one side and the other. This goes against an acting trend that purports to pretend to be true, real, as if the thing to strive for is this hypothetical "self": Be yourself! Actually, the characters represent something and is therefore purer than in real life. In other words, you exchange believability with hypotonicity.
The only political joke comes from a 9 year-old child.
Indeed, these children don’t think about politics. Like in real life, there is no real anger. There are those who grumble about Berlusconi, who complain, but nobody thinks of improving his or her life, nobody takes any steps forward. Before, we could be Communists, but today we’re living in the best of all possible worlds...[he laughs].