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Interview: Emma Dante • Director

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“A street: observation tower for the rest of the world”


- A female duo is the film debut by the avant-garde filmmaker, who hopes her film A Street in Palermo will cross European borders.

Interview: Emma Dante  • Director

Almost a female western , A Street in Palermo [+see also:
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is avant-garde theatre screenwriter and actress Emma Dante’s debut film. “I find Sergio Leone’s cinema very inspiring. I studied the genre deeply and there are moments in the film where this is clear, even if I didn’t want to do a western, I just wanted to nod to him.” Two cars find themselves facing each other on a street, which is too narrow for both of them to get through. Inside one is Samira (Elena Cotta), an elderly lady originally from Albania. Before her is Rosa (Emma Dante), who has returned home with her partner Clara (Alba Rohrwacher) to attend a friend of hers’ wedding. A Street in Palermo was presented in competition at the 70th Venice Film Festival, where Elena Cotta, at the age of eighty-two, was given the “Volpi Cup” for best actress.

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How did you enjoy the transition behind the camera?
Emma Dante: This film was shot on the basis of my own method: the theatrical one. This method proved to be just as effective with my Sud Costa Occidentale theatrical company, and the actors from there are taking part in the film, as well as Alba, Elena and all the rest. I was lucky enough to find great partners, there was great energy that worked well.

Why did you choose two women for the duel?
Two women who tenaciously confront each other and then start to lose their inhibitions. This confrontation is also a way of getting to know oneself even if both are trying to avoid this. It is right to accept the monstrosity, which is also a small part of themselves. Something they have not managed to tell themselves up until now. Their characters change as the story unfolds.

Is the fact that the film is set in the South important?
Palermo is my city, so I am starting from a common root: my language, my history, the street on which I lived. I am talking about something I know. And I don’t really know what telling the South’s story really means. The South is also a part of the North, in the sense that it is a tower from which you can look at the world. For me, this film is not a local film, it is a film that speaks about community and a state of mind, not a geographic location.

So what is the metaphor hiding behind the original Italian title, which is also the name of the street:Via Castellana Bandiera?
The street, via Castellana Bandiera, is for me the large street of the end, and not the narrow one of the beginning. It is something different for everyone. It is important to have no definitive answer. Everyone experiences it in a different way. Maybe we can no longer see things, maybe we see things twisted. We see something narrow, when no one is in the way and we get upset. But the truth is, the space is big and there is space for everyone. These two women are confronted with an older woman who has a different way of thinking and who does not judge. Rosa and Samira are free on via Castellana Bandiera. The only obstacle they have is this fleeting crisis, which thankfully disappears at dawn.

But via Castellana Bandiera is also a dead-end street.
The precipice at the end of the street is present, but we do not feel the fall, we feel that we are humans on the brink. It is a particular moment of our story when we cannot fall off the precipice. There is a falling hypothesis. It might be more constructive to fall and then have to pick ourselves up. I think there is a stop in the film, a stalling, which is similar to where we are now.

What are your expectations from the film?
I hope the film is screened everywhere, and that it goes beyond the borders of Sicily, Italy and Europe. I hope it goes as far as possible and that it provokes a reaction in people, that reaction which is caused by art.


international title: A Street in Palermo
original title: Via Castellana Bandiera
country: Italy, Switzerland, France
sales agent: Films Distribution
year: 2013
directed by: Emma Dante
screenplay: Emma Dante, Giorgio Vasta
cast: Alba Rohrwacher, Emma Dante, Elena Cotta, Renato Malfatti, Dario Casarolo, Carmine Maringola

main awards/selection

Venice 2013 Volpi Cup for Best Actress (Elena Cotta)

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