A Pasolini-inspired Alì, in between feelings and integration
by Camillo de Marco
- Claudio Giovannesi falls into fiction with Alì Blue Eyes, applauded by Rome’s International Film Festival spectators where it was presented in competition.
Continuing research on the problems teenagers face - like cultural integration in peripheral communities – started with medium length feature films such as Welcome Bucarest in 2007 and documentary Fratelli d'Italia in 2010, Claudio Giovannesi has entered fictional cinema with Alì ha gli occhi azzurri [+see also:
interview: Claudio Giovannesi
film profile], applauded by the public during Rome’s International Film Festival, where it was competing. This is a film full of ups and downs, but that remains minimal and measured, without having to touch on the Arab Spring argument.
"My point is not to give solutions. All I did was highlight possible conflicts and fundamental contradictions which lie at the very base of integration. The debates surrounding possible solutions show great hope for the future," Giovannesi told the press.
Cineuropa: What is the origin of the film’s title?
Claudio Giovannesi: I was inspired by Prophecy, a poem written by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1962. Here, the author wrote like he was foreseeing a multiracial future. His verses refer to the to the people who came from the sea in order to spit on the parasite that is Antique History . The first time I saw Nader, he was wearing his own contact lenses. Thinking back on it, this was strange to me.
From the decision to base it in one of Rome’s neighbouring cities, on the nearby coast, the film is a sort of life homage to Pasolini’s everyday men. How are suburbanites different today than they were in the 1960s?
My film is not trying to be a cultural reference, but instead an aesthetic and sentimental homage. What seemed especially sweet to me was the pure way in which Pasolini managed to look at the world. Young people have really changed. Today, we find ourselves in an interracial world where roots clash with consumer society. That is exactly what happens to Nader when, despite opposition from his family, he decides to tackle real life.
The film is a spin-off from your documentary Fratelli d'Italia, presented during the Rome festival in 2009. What made you choose to pick this argument up again and tell it through the eyes of a camera’s lens?
I wanted to continue working on the theme of adolescence in a marginal place, like what happens in the outskirts of a city. It is true that compared to the way in which the documentary was filmed, we had to change many things, especially the approach our youngsters had to reciting. In a first instance, we called on Nader and his friends to ignore the camera, but then, afterwards, I lead them to something that resembled fieldwork. In this way, I was also able to deepen sentimental aspects and the micro-criminality which is surrounding us.
What phases did you put yourself through when transforming real life characters into on screen personalities?
Together with co-script-writers, like Filippo Gravino, we hung out with young people for weeks. We followed them in the train which goes from Rome to Ostia. Once the entire material was collected, we decide on the best way in which to give it the shape of the story.