"Every human being should be able to make their own choices when it comes to their own life.”
by Vittoria Scarpa
- A courageous and successful debut for Valeria Golino. In her first film as a director, the actress tackles the theme of assisted suicide.
A courageous and successful debut for Valeria Golino with Miele [+see also:
interview: Valeria Golino
interview: Valeria Golino
film profile], selected in the Certain Regard section of the 66th Cannes Film Festival. In her first film as a director, the actress tackles the theme of assisted suicide through the story of Irene (Jasmine Trinca), a young woman who helps the terminally ill until the very end. She spoke about it with members of the press during a recent presentation in Rome.
What pushed you to choose this story for your first film as a director?
Valeria Golino: I read the book A nome tuo by Mauro Covacich three years ago. I found it to be a striking book. Very contemporary, painful and provoking, with a type of female character Italian literature and film haven’t yet seen. I talked about it with Viola Prestieri and Riccardo Scamarcio (who produced the film for Buena Onda) and I put a request in to buy the book’s rights. Initially, we were frightened. We weren’t sure whether it might be too difficult for me to take on as a first film.
What were you frightened of?
I was frightened that my lack of experience would mean I would not be able to appropriately treat the theme of assisted suicide, which is different from euthanasia. I never thought the topic was itself that heavy. It is the contradiction between life and death, light and darkness, which drew me to make the film. I was more afraid that others would not let us do it.
You are a well-respected actress. The film’s producer, Riccardo Scamarcio, is too. But neither of you appear in the film. How did you overcome the temptation, which is so common, to star in your own film?
I wanted the female character to be younger than thirty, so younger than I am. An older woman’s battle would have been different. I also didn’t want to star in my first film, I was more curious to film someone else. I am not saying it won’t happen in the future. As for Riccardo, he could have played one of the two male roles, but it just didn’t seem right to us.
What position does the film take in terms of assisted suicide?
My film is not seeking to provoke or to be against, it has no definitive position, it just tries to ask certain questions. The topic is taboo in Italy, but more in terms of institutions than people. Personally, I think that every human being should be able to decide what to do with their own life, their own body and their own end. But everyone has their own personal story and what I wanted to do was insert myself in these doubts. Irene is paid to do what she does, and she wanted it to be like that, because for her it is a job, I didn’t want it to be an ideological choice.
In your film, you don’t actually see anyone die. Why did you make that choice? And in the epilogue of the character played by Carlo Cecchi, you there is an homage to Mario Monicelli?
While we were writing, we learned of Monicelli’s death and how he came to die. In the film, you don’t see anyone die because I don’t like it aesthetically. I wanted the tension and the weight of this event to be felt, sacred and grave, but without a trace.
What was your directing method for such a coherent film - also visually speaking?
I would like to have a method, but I still don’t have one. I took photos and notes. I wanted the film to be free and formal at the same time, that the frames be serious and without frills, but inside this, I wanted light, and a moving camera. I had to leave many of the most aesthetically beautiful things out, because the film has the type of theme that cannot deal with the superfluous.
The camera follows Jasmine Trinca very closely, almost like a hidden camera. What were your cinematographic references?
I learned from every director I worked with. I like exaggerated close-ups. With Jasmine, the more I filmed her, the more I wanted to get closer and look at the details of her face, her back, her neck. Not because it was necessary for the story, but because the closer you get to her, the more beautiful she gets.
What does being in Cannes mean for you?
I always wanted to go to Cannes and I always thought of the Certain Regard for this film. The idea of going there and getting dressed up fills me with joy. I have done it before. In actual fact, you have less fun than you expect to. But the idea of participating gives you a sense of belonging to global cinema. It makes me proud.