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Paolo Virzì

Disorganised filmmaking


- The director describes his American adventure - and misadventures - during the making of My Name is Tanino, screened out of competition

Paolo Virzì

Paolo Virzì describes his latest film, My name is Tanino [+see also:
film profile
, out of competition, as “an adventurous journey and a paean to stupidity and youthful candour.” Virzì wrote the screenplay together with his habitual writing partner, Francesco Bruni and Francesco Piccolo, “Bruni and I are like an old married couple who decided to try a ménage à trois. His name was Piccolo.”
As a consequence of producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori’s well documented difficulties, My Name is Tanino was not an easy production and the film almost didn’t see the light of day.

Who is Tanino?
“A really thick film fan in his twenties. A disorganised daydreamer who actually faints whenever he’s faced with a new problem. I based him on some of the aspiring students I met at the SNC – National Film School. They came full of dreams, but to a man were unable to pass the entry exam. They didn’t have a clue. Tanino comes from a tiny village in Sicily called Castelluzzo del Golfo where he meets and falls for an American tourist called Sally. Six months down the line, he decides to go and visit her in America, a journey that takes Tanino on a series of hilarious adventures.”

Describe what it was like to film on location in New York and Toronto
“At first I was surrounded by so many assistants, I thought I was making an blockbuster. Whichever way I turned, there were people talking into their cuffs telling the others on set what I was about to do A few weeks into production, the money flow from Italy turned into a trickle and then stopped. So did we. Then came a series of stops and starts. We finished some scenes fully six months after starting them! I ended this film with a three-man crew: me, the DP and the protagonist. From blockbuster to cinematographic nonentity. But I enjoyed the experience because it reflects the bizarre, anarchic and unpredictable screenplay and the Tanino who lives inside us all.”

What’s next for you?
“Bruni and I are writing a story about a 13-year-old schoolboy who comes to Rome from the provinces. That past master of disorganisation, Cecchi Gori, would be the ideal producer but I think I’ll go with someone else this time around.”


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