"Cinema is no longer the seventh art; it ceased being so with the arrival of sound in films"
by Héctor Llanos Martínez
- LOCARNO 2015: In Lost and Beautiful, entered in the competition at Locarno, Pietro Marcello shows the other side of ever-successful Italian cinema
Tomasso is a humble shepherd who dedicated part of his life to looking after an abandoned, dilapidated palace in the Italian region of Campania. After his death, his servant, Pulcinella, emerges from the depths of Mount Vesuvius to fulfil Tomasso’s dying wish: to take charge of a buffalo. The servant and the animal begin a journey to the north, through a beautiful and lost country. With this, filmmaker Pietro Marcello creates Lost and Beautiful [+see also:
interview: Pietro Marcello
film profile], a contemporary tale, self-produced through L’avventurosa, an independent film production company that he shares with Gianfranco Rosi (Sacro GRA [+see also:
interview: Gianfranco Rosi
film profile]). It is currently competing for the Golden Leopard in the Locarno Festival.
Cineuropa: What is going on with Italy for it to have abandoned the south of the country in such a way?
Pietro Marcello: It’s a problem that derives from the beginning of Italian unification and which hasn’t yet been resolved. The south, in contrast to the north, possesses a social rhythm that exposes problems in the country that are much more complex and profound than a simple question of economic wealth. This is something that Pasolini already touched upon in Survey On Love (Love Meetings) (1971).
Is it hard to resolve those problems when, as with the palace or the buffalo in the film, nobody wants to take responsibility for that which is not productive?
The modern world has brought us to this. In the past, the value of the animals was recognised because they were used for work and, paradoxically, they were also more respected than they are now. This buffalo is not useful, as it doesn’t produce milk, and with the artificial insemination process, it is hardly necessary anymore in the industrial world.
In a very different way, the Rohrwacher sisters tried to draw attention to this problem last year with The Wonders [+see also:
interview: Alice Rohrwacher
interview: Tiziana Soudani
I know Alice Rohrwacher well because, like me, she is from the region of Campania. Moreover, we share the same disposition and have a respect for the same things. Her success is unusual in modern Italian cinema.
Although Italian cinema has been talked about more in the last few years, it is true that work connected to film stars is most praised.
I have not been able to produce a feature film since I did The Mouth of the Wolf [+see also:
interview: Pietro Marcello
film profile] in 2009. This means that it is not easy to find producers for films that don’t use film stars (that of Sorrentino, Garrone…). Commercial cinema doesn’t interest me at all, and I prefer to make less money and have more control of my stories. Lost and Beautiful was produced by L’avventurosa Films, which is an independent and self-sufficient company.
Your previous films could be watched for free on the internet.
I admire Soviet cinema, which focuses on working and is not worried about generating profit. The idea of cinema as an open, instructive, educational and social culture fascinates me. It’s what television should be but isn’t. Cinema is no longer the seventh art. With the arrival of sound, it ceased being so and became a form of entertainment.
You produced a feature film dedicated to Marco Bellocchio, who will be presented with a lifetime achievement award at Locarno in upcoming days. What did you learn by working on his character?
I am more inclined to the ways of Italian Neorealism and the first Pasolini. Bellocchio is a great filmmaker but he works more with his head than his heart.
(Translated from Spanish)