Antonio Capuano • Director
by Camillo De Marco
- With Bagnoli Jungle Neapolitan director Antonio Capuano returns to portraying his city
A standing ovation for Antonio Capuano’s film Bagnoli Jungle [+see also:
interview: Antonio Capuano
film profile] closed the 30th International Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival. Four years on from his last film, Dark Love [+see also:
film profile], Capuano has returned to portraying his home city, Naples, turning his attention to the town of Bagnoli, once synonymous with employment with Italsider, today a run-down place at the centre of political skirmishes. The cast features the great Antonio Casagrande, who started out working in the theatre company of Eduardo De Filippo, Luigi Attrice and young Marco Grieco, who starred alongside Valeria Golino in another of Capuano’s films back in 2005: Mario’s War. Produced by Dario Formisano’s company Eskimo with Gennaro Fasolino and the director himself, in collaboration with Andrea De Liberato’s company Enjoy Movies, Bagnoli Jungle marked the Neapolitan writer’s return to Critics’ Week, where in 1991, he competed and won with his debut film Vito e gli altri.
Cineuropa: Capuano, the government has appointed a commissioner to develop and tidy up the area of Bagnoli.
Antonio Capuano: Given that the Neapolitans did nothing from 1992 to the present-day, a shake-up was needed. Of course those Neapolitans who remain glued to their positions of power are angry. Let’s see how things go, we’ll see how good he is based on his ability and concrete results.
Why these three protagonists, a thief, a pensioner and a deli shop boy?
I needed a generation to tell us about the past, i.e. an elderly man who experienced the golden age of Italian industry, when Italsider was a thriving company providing work for 10 thousand people, when there was a lively and aware working class culture. I experienced that era first-hand because my brothers and a number of my friends worked at Italsider. Business was booming and people knew the meaning of work. Then I needed a middle-aged character, someone 40-50 years old, to represent the present-day: collapse, emptiness and struggle. So we have this rascal, thrown out of his home, who cannot find peace and is constantly on the move. Finally I needed someone from the young generation: an upstanding lad, contrary to the popular belief that young people from the outskirts of Naples are all involved in criminal activity. I knew Marco, he used to work in a deli and now he’s a barber. There are lots of young boys like him who work, a generation of ‘invisibles’ who work hard to bring home a salary and be able to spend some of it on a Saturday night.
In the film we see a demonstration taking place on May Day.
That happened by sheer coincidence. On 1 May we had just finished shooting and happened upon a demonstration full of young people waving red flags, who were more pissed off than I was! We felt we were caught up in something very special.
What is it that links all your films?
I’m the link between my films. Like Picasso who painted ‘The Bathers’ and then reinvented the piece thirty years later through sculpture; he’s what links his works. In my bathroom hangs the reproduction of one of the many paintings of bathers, provocative and thrilling, so that I start my day off on the right foot.
In spite of its presence at the Oscars, Italian film suffers from distribution issues. Does it still convey the country’s culture?
The provincial soul of Italy is deeply rooted in its films. In the past film has done a great deal for our culture abroad. But today you just can’t get the producers, the distributors. A lot of films are made without love, without awareness, they’re made to make money and that’s all. Culture works over time, not straight away. Superficiality and bad taste on the other hand, send you into a spiralling vortex that will drown you. The ‘higher’ tools of widened awareness aren’t used anymore, those artistic means that have always made us stand out, which drew the world in. There’s no care put into filmmaking anymore. There’s an absence of love and pain, emotion basically. A lot of sentimentalism – bags of that – but no depth.
You’re working on a new film that will be entitled Il buco in testa. Can you tell us what it’s about?
Well we make plans, but then we’re bound by laborious quest for funding. I want to the story – set between Naples and Milan in 2007 – of a girl who, after thirty years, decides she wants to meet the man who killed her father, a policeman whom she never knew. The killer is a terrorist who has served his sentence for this political murder, and the pair spends the day together.
(Translated from Italian)