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“A dark fairytale anchored to reality”

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Claudio Noce • Director


- The Ice Forest, the new film by Claudio Noce, will be released on 13 November. We met up with the filmmaker as he presented it at the Rome Film Festival

Claudio Noce  • Director

After Good Morning Aman [+see also:
film review
film profile
, a tale of immigration and friendship set in Rome's most multicultural neighbourhood, Claudio Noce has filmed his second feature, The Ice Forest [+see also:
film review
interview: Claudio Noce
film profile
, in the mountains of Trentino. A film noir about the darkest secrets of a tiny town in the Alps, starring Emir Kusturica, Ksenia Rappoport, Adriano Giannini and Domenico Diele, it was presented at the ninth Rome Film Festival (read the review) and will be released in Italian cinemas on 13 November.

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Cineuropa: What was it that made you turn to genre films?
Claudio Noce: I wanted to measure myself against something new. The project started as a dichotomy: a desire to try out a genre film and its narrative structure on one hand, and on the other my wish not to abandon a type of cinema that looks at emotions, at the characters. While in my previous work the urban context was the protagonist, this time I sought the silence of nature. I also wanted to try and make a broader form of cinema, to reach a wider, more mixed audience. You could call it a dark fairytale; the setting was our invention, the characters follow fanciful rules, but they maintain a strong link with reality and with a social context – that of illegal immigration.

How did you work with the actors on such a tough set?
It was incredibly difficult to shoot in such an extreme location, but it was ideal for the story. We really felt that cold, that discomfort, amidst the snow blizzards, at -20 Celsius and at 2,200 metres above sea level. Working in such a unique environment favoured a strong contact with nature. The actors totally clicked with the location; it helped them get into character. It was an extraordinary cast, very diverse, perhaps a bit strange: a guy from Rome, one from Tuscany, a Russian woman, a Serbian man...

What about Kusturica? Did he give you any advice?
I was very worried about directing a cinema legend like him, but I turned that fear into strength. He was very collaborative. On the first day on set, he studied me, he kept wanting to check the monitor, but then he trusted and respected me. He put a lot of himself into it; every now and then he surprised me, sometimes very positively. I only disagreed with him when it came to the violent scenes. He has his own vision, and the violence in his films is ironic, grotesque, and so he suggested we go in that direction. But that didn’t fit this film, and I told him so.

Speaking of style, the film often uses slow motion. Why?
Slow motion is a tool used to stress cinematic language and needs to be rationed out because it can lead the audience astray by boring, distracting or annoying them. For me, slow motion is a moment in which I freeze time and try to lead the viewer into an emotion in a more direct way. In this film, I've used it with this purpose in mind – such as when Pietro (Diele) and Secondo (Kusturica) are going down that long corridor, one after the other, and one gives the other his missing brother's necklace: the sequence starts in slow motion because Secondo realises that the past is back, and starts to sense the danger. He opens the door angrily, and symbolically that's a door that had been shut for 20 years.

The film doesn't explain everything. How was information balanced in the screenplay?
At some point, I put both emotions and explanations on the scale. I asked myself: “When I get to the final sequence, on the dam, do I know everything, or do I leave the scene with a higher level of emotion, living that moment through Lana (Rappoport)'s eyes?” So I chose the second. I left the viewer free to understand. In other drafts, there were more details and explanations; some had even been filmed. But the perfect mechanism, and the coldness that is sometimes combined with genre film, doesn't match my idea of emotion. And in the end, that's what I chose. It is definitely a complex work, but I didn't want it to be a difficult, auteur film: I hope that it can reach everyone.

(Translated from Italian)

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