"History seen from the bottom up"
by Camillo de Marco
- Riccardo Tozzi - who with Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz heads one of Italy's most dynamic and active independent production companies, Cattleya - is once again heading to France ...
In March 2006 Romanzo criminale [+see also:
interview: Michele Placido
film profile] was released in France by Warner to great success, marking the return of Italian cinema in the country. Now Riccardo Tozzi – who with Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz heads one of Italy’s most dynamic and active independent production companies, Cattleya – is once again heading to France, with Daniele Luchetti’s My Brother is an Only Child [+see also:
interview: Daniele Luchetti
interview: Riccardo Tozzi
film profile], distributed by Studio Canal.
Cineuropa: One year after the solid performance of Romanzo criminale what elements of Luchetti’s film do you think French audiences could like the most?
Riccardo Tozzi: In Italy, Romanzo criminale’s great success grew slowly in theatres, and the same happened in Paris and in France. It was the kind of Italian cinema that the French like: a lit bit genre, with comic elements, an emphasis on human emotions, social and political events seen from the bottom up and, finally, a bit of action. I think that My Brother is an Only Child has the same element: history seen through the eyes of ordinary people and emotions in the forefront. We have a fascist and a communist who are, however, brothers, and this is very symbolic in Italy; the human side of politics, which renders everything more comprehensible. It’s a genre film that helps us understand the Italy of that difficult period, more so than the articles published in Le Monde by our intellectuals. The French have always appreciated films like these, from Luigi Comencini’s Everybody Go Home to Mario Monicelli’s The Great War, which combined a great story and ordinary characters.
For some time now you’ve been hoping for the return of the star system to help cinema better reach audiences. And you created the "phenomenon" Riccardo Scamarcio, who girls go crazy over. With My Brother is an Only Child a new Italian star was born, Elio Germano, who stole a bit of Scamarcio’s limelight with his talent.
One of Cattleya’s goals is to rebuild an Italian star system through the promotion and distribution of our films abroad. Naturally, it’s positive that there be an exchange, with an increase of young stars. For the immediate future, I expect a lot from Luca Argentero. When a year and a half ago he toured the world, including the United States, with Don’t Tell [+see also:
film profile], people who saw the film said they were overwhelmed by the ensemble cast, and that each actor was a bit better than the rest! Kim Rossi Stuart, for example, is someone who could take on any role and always be successful, but he prefers to alternate between acting and directing.
Foreign distribution of Italian films, of European films in general, is a problem that is often solved through personal initiatives. International sales agents have trouble selling titles and say they aren’t helped much by producers.
It’s not the sellers’ fault. In the 1908s and 90s we gave them a lot of bad, un-sellable films. In fact, Italian cinema disappeared from the market. Now the standards are high, we give our films to foreign sellers but they obviously push national titles first. The situation can be resolved with the creation of new sales companies abroad or the renewal of the structures of already existing companies. Nevertheless, we still need to have closer ties between production and distribution companies, to send each other signals.
Do you expect any help from the new Film Law?
Yes, if they manage to truly create a National Film Centre like the one in France. But I don’t expect much from politics with a parliamentary system that is perennially unstable. It will be extraordinary enough if they succeed in launching the tax shelter and the revision of Law 122 [making Pay TV and telecommunications operators also pay the film aid quota].