"It was a massacre of innocents"
by Gabriele Barcaro
- After his feature debut The Wind Blows Round, which benefited from unexpected word of mouth, Giorgio Diritti returns with an ambitious second film
His first feature, The Wind Blows Round [+see also:
film profile], was one of the few rarities of recent Italian cinema, distributed with difficulty (after having been rejected by a number of important festivals) and then boosted by unexpected word of mouth that guaranteed it, if not box office millions, at least a long – and in some cases, very long – theatrical run. Today, Giorgio Diritti returns with an ambitious second film, The Man Who Will Come [+see also:
interview: Giorgio Diritti
film profile], a moving tribute to a dramatic chapter in Italian history and a double award-winner (by audiences and the jury) at last year's Rome Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Why did you choose to make a film about the Monte Sole massacre? And why do you think Italian cinema was so silent for so long on the subject?
Giorgio Diritti: Not just our cinema, but Italy itself has essentially repressed the most heinous chapters [of its history]. It has not come to terms with what was a civil war, albeit an undeclared one. It has preferred to make films on the stereotypes of the Resistance, or else give in to triumphalism, instead of reckoning with the many facets of history, whose memory it is important to keep alive. Especially when it comes to events such as the Monte Sole massacre. What happened 60 years ago in Italy is happening elsewhere today, and we must stay vigil so that civilians are always protected, and so that ideologies such as those that led to these massacres do not take hold.
Before your film, Spike Lee also tackled these subjects. Have you seen Miracle at St. Anna [+see also:
Of course, but only after I finished shooting, I didn't want to be influenced in any way. What I can say, and I'm sorry given my admiration for Spike Lee, is that his approach was not very historically attentive, and was instead “novel-esque”. Its limit is that it's not credible, it belies the difficulty an American director has in understanding what happened in Italy, especially if lacking sufficient information. It's as if I were to make a film about the Bronx without doing extensive research first.
Research that, however, was conducted for The Man Who Will Come…
Yes, it was long and laborious: preparation lasted many years, during which – along with the studies and documents – we also met with survivors and Resistance fighters, people who lived through those events. Normal people who dreamt of living, loving, raising their children, who suddenly found themselves overwhelmed by something external the sense of which they didn't understand. It was a massacre of innocents, and I wanted to depict it “from below”, through the eyes of a child, Martina, in which all viewers can see themselves.
This choice increases viewers' sense of identification...
The goal was to catapult them to 1944, as if in on a journey through time and space that takes them to another dimension, to life as it was back then, just like the faces and places. Realism and emotional involvement are the strong points that transform The Man Who Will Come into a film very much “of the people”.
The film also makes some brave choices. How did the RAI Cinema producers react when they saw you wanted to shoot in the Emiliano dialect [which must be subtitled for Italians]?
Shortly before production I realized that it would be better to shoot in dialect. The “Bologna-ised” Italian we originally thought to use risked being ridiculous, or reminiscent of certain 1970s comedies. At RAI, like at our distributor Mikado there was some initial unease. However, their reactions were enthusiastic after the first dailies, and the choice also helped the lead actresses, Maya Sansa and Alba Rohrwacher, blend in with the non-professional actors.