Valerio Mieli • Director
by Gabriele Barcaro
04/12/2009 - “Only in Italy are you young at 30,” says Valerio Mieli in response to all those who ask him if he isn’t worried that he’s bitten off more than he can chew. While most students at the National Film School in Rome choose to make a short for their graduation project, he had the opportunity to make a feature. One he grabbed immediately. “It they offer you that kind of chance, the only sensible thing to do is accept it. You need courage to do something new the first time.”
He had just that when making his ambitious and mature graduation film, Ten Winters [trailer, film focus], whose romance is never mawkish and which unfolds over a decade. The film won over audiences and critics alike in 2009 at the Venice Film Festival (whose artistic director Marco Muller called it the “best Italian romantic comedy of recent years”) and will be released domestically on December 10 on 50 prints as, says distributor Leandro Pesci (who with Mario Fiorito heads Bolero Film), “an alternative to the Christmas blockbusters”.
Cineuropa: How would you describe Ten Winters?
Valerio Mieli: It’s a story about falling in love slowly, not about something that burns out quickly but of a yearning, the exact opposite of love at first sight. It’s not a friendship that turns into love: Silvestro and Camilla go through all the phases of a relationship, from bonding to jealousy and fighting, without ever being together. They’re not boyfriend and girlfriend, but they’re united by a bond that always has some romantic tension.
Where did the idea for the film come from?
I had an idea buzzing around my head about a love story told “through paintings”, ellipses, over a long period of time. Isabella Aguilar, who besides having written Ten Winters, is also my companion and has a deep knowledge of cinema, told me that A Love already existed (we later studied the film a lot, especially the way in which director Gianluca Maria Tavarelli worked on the ellipses), whereas no one had yet told a story like ours.
So there’s something of the autobiographical here?
The characters of Silvestro and Camilla are very different from us, and the situations have been invented, but I would say yes. Isabella and I haven’t been together for all that long, but we’ve known each other for ten years. Our paths crossed often, we even dated each other’s friends. We even talked badly about each other, we didn’t like each other at all for a long time.
Why did you choose to set the film in Venice?
Abstractly speaking, Ten Winters is relatively universal, but only Venice, by definition a magical place, could guarantee the balance between poetry and reality that I was looking for. To that end, I chose its lesser-known corners, at least film-wise: the student neighbourhood, where people live and work, and where tourists pass by only by mistake. Those hidden corners gave the film a suspended tone, somewhere between realism and fairy tale. I even insisted that we shoot in the real interiors, even though Venice is logistically complicated – and very expensive.
Some have called this an anti-Moccia film, to denote how different it is, despite it being about young main characters, from the teen-oriented films of writer-director Federico Moccia, who made Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore [trailer] and Amore 14 [trailer].
I didn’t want to make a film that was “anti” anything, but it certainly contradicts the ideas of those who think that a love story between young people should only be silly or tragic. I depicted the kind of characters I know best, the kind I spent the last ten years with: nice, intelligent people. Who have something to say, just like the film.