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Manuel's Mediterranean

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Manuel Pradal

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- Manuel Pradal presents Ginostra, produced by Studio Canal with France 2 Cinema & Emotion Pictures, at the RomaFilmFestival

Manuel Pradal

French film director, Manuel Pradal was a guest of honour at the RomaFilmFestival where he presented his latest film, Ginostra, produced by Studio Canal with France 2 Cinéma and Emotion Pictures.
Ginostra is Pradal’s second feature film, and set on the magical island of Stromboli in Sicily. The French director assembled a spectacular international cast including America’s Harvey Keitel, Andie McDowell and Harry Dean Stanton, and Italy’s Stefano Dionisi, Francesca Neri and Asia Argento. Pradal describes this film as “a story of the mafia and the family, and about the way in which the protagonist deals with violence.” Ginostra was warmly received at the last edition of Toronto. Let’s listen to what Manuel Pradal has to say about this new film, already sold in 35 countries.

It took you two long and rather difficult years to make this film...
“I started filming Ginostra in December of 2000 and was scheduled to wrap in a few weeks’ time. The reality was that it took me fifteen weeks, and almost one year to edit the film. Etna erupted and we opened up the set again. Then the Canal Plus board changed. But I persevered in the face of natural and film industry disasters and I came through!”

This is something of a complex story where none of the characters is who they appear to be...
“At first, I thought I would make a thriller set in downtown Naples. I had to rethink my plans after realising that the city of Naples would have had an overwhelming effect on the story. I then decided on another location and thanks to my cast and the meetings I had with them, the story gradually changed until it became Ginostra. My main goal was that it explore the dynamics that violence and fear within a family give rise to.”

You shot the whole film on Stromboli, both a magnificently beautiful natural setting but also hugely evocative of the history of Italian cinema; people like Rossellini and Antonioni, for example...
“It is simply impossible not to be aware of masters of filmmaking such as them, even for someone like me who was never an assiduous filmgoer and could hardly be described as a cinephile. I was born in a village near Montpellier, halfway between Paris and Rome; halfway between two fundamentally important filmmaking schools. This indirect heritage of mine encouraged me to make the most of both cultures, especially the films of the 60s and 70s, a period I consider particularly romantic and lyrical.”

You put together a spectacular cast for Ginostra, that includes Americans like Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton and Andie McDowell, as well as famous Italians like Stefano Dionisi, Francesco Neri and Asia Argento.
“That was facilitated by the success of my previous film, Maria in the Bay of Angels, presented at the 1997 Venice Film Festival. The excellent reviews it received allowed me to reach the Olympian heights of filmmaking, and put me in touch with my favourite actors. Harvey and Andie accepted my offer without even reading the script. The hard part was convincing them to come to Italy and be stuck on a tiny Sicilian island for fifteen weeks.”

And what about your Italian cast members?
“I chose Asia because I consider her to be an icon of all that Italy represents and Stefano Dionisi because he is the personification of the ideal Latin male that I needed for this story.”

Do you think your next film will also take place in the Mediterranean area?
“No. I will cross the Atlantic to get to New York. Ginostra is the final chapter of a trilogy that I began with a film-study I made in Montpellier with the help of a bunch of friends, one of whom was Agnès Jaoui. I followed this up with Maria of the Bay of Angels. As well as my New York project, I have another one, set this time in Canada.”

Will we ever see the film-study you refer to in Italy?
“Absolutely and categorically no. Nobody will ever see it. It was a training exercise where I expressed my passion for the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini. The film is too absolute a tribute: important for my professional development but not to be seen by an audience.”

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