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Karine de Villers and Mario Brenta • Directors

“A film is not something ephemeral; it is timeless”


- Karine de Villers and Mario Brenta have just finished Corps à corps, a film about the creative process behind Pippo Delbono’s new show

Karine de Villers and Mario Brenta  • Directors

Karine de Villers and Mario Brenta have just finished Corps à corps, a film about the creative process behind Pippo Delbono’s new show, Orchidées. Delbono, a theatre director and actor, surrounds himself with life’s victims, actors of their own lives, rather than people playing a role. Death, anger and insanity are his favourite themes.

Cinergie: In making this film, how much time did you spend with Pippo and his company?
Mario Brenta: Five very intense weeks of filming… almost a lifetime behind closed doors on a theatre stage, like a kind of microcosm. 

On seeing your film, it seems that everyone was living in the theatre.
Karine de Villers: The immediate impression we had was one of an occupation… what with the camp, the dormitory, the dining room and Pippo’s private room. Every space was occupied and had no boundaries to it. People would naturally shift between the stage, the stalls and backstage. 

Day or night?
KdV: The hours were very flexible, but in general, we started at 3pm and left at 3am. The real work started around 7pm. Before that, there were readings, suggestions and waiting around.

MB: We waited a long time, and then the creative process began, and it was a series of improvisations. When Karine and I arrived there, there was a certain degree of hesitation… even though Pippo had introduced us as part of his group of actors… At first, the performers were unsure. But very quickly, a positive atmosphere began to develop because we were not in the way. There were only two of us with a camera. We never used a tripod in order to avoid staying in the same spot, and never used fill light. We were very unobtrusive.

KdV: The fact that we were there and shared moments of their lives with them really helped us, and them too… It made them very focused. They were aware that they were being filmed, and a film is not something ephemeral; it is timeless. 

How did you come up with the idea of making a film about the work of Pippo Delbono?
MB: The idea came to us after meeting Pippo. We had gone to see Barboni, one of his shows, in Venice. Afterwards, we went to have a drink with him. He wanted us to make a film of Barboni because it takes place outside. I thought it was more interesting to highlight how he develops a show, and so I asked him if he had a new project in the pipeline. He answered, “I’ve been contracted for a show, but I only know the title: Orchidées. I don’t have any lines for it, and I don’t yet know what story I’m going to tell.” This interested us because it allowed us to tap into all the possibilities that cinematic language presents… with all its potential. And a documentary, which doesn’t have any predetermined text either, lends itself to this more than a work of fiction would. 

Are the scenes that we see rehearsed, or improvisation that takes place on the spot, once only?
MB: It’s once only. Some things can be rehearsed, when Pippo makes collages out of different suggestions in order to weave the fabric of the story together, but there aren’t real rehearsals like we see in classical theatre. They are fleeting moments that need to be captured as and when they come along, without knowing how they will unfold.

KdV: The peculiar thing is that there is no set. There are no markers or reference points in the space. The body becomes the space; the body becomes a language.

Read the rest of the interview on Cinergie (in French).

(Translated from French)


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