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Moretti Speaks


- One year after winning the Palme d'Or, the Italian director returned to Cannes to give this year's Lesson

Moretti Speaks

2 p.m. and it´s time for Professor Nanni Moretti´s Leçon de cinéma. At the console, Angelo Barbagallo controlled the films and videos, some of which totally inedited, that Moretti commented from the podium with French film critic Jean Gili clearly adhering to the saying that «silence equals consent.» Moretti´s career is enough to fill an entire page of an encyclopaedia: he is the complete filmmaker: exhibitor, producer, director, actor, critic, juror and festival organiser... He is also a waterball player, good father, talented political commentator with a special skill for getting to the root of the problem. The Lesson comes to its natural end and Nanni disappears into the bowels of the Sala Buñuel.

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Nanni the Exhibitor Moretti begins The Lesson by screening of La sera della prima di «Close Up» a short film that is known to Italian audiences but largely ignored abroad. It is Nanni´s way of warming his public up. The film is takes us through a typical day with Nanni Moretti, the owner-manager of the Nuovo Sacher cinema in Rome. He is clearly depressed when he compares the box office of The Lion King with that of Close Up but says, «I didn´t become a businessman to make money».

Nanni the Juror Four completely new films: Nanni, the juror in Turin in 1989, in Locarno in 1990, Cannes in 1997 and Venice in 2001. «There are so many myths told about what film jurors really do. For example, some people say that the president has two votes,» says Moretti as the screen is filled with interminable images of endless lunches and dinners in classy restaurants. Moretti is sweetness and light personified: «If Sokurov likes himself, then Paul Aster adores himself...» Moretti reveals what really happened when Mira Nair won the Golden Lion at last year´s Venice Film Festival: «she got five votes from the group lead by Amitav Ghosh against two for Babak Payami». He even has a salient comment about the director of the Festival, «Do you see that sculpture of the Biennale, well, there´s a person hiding behind it: De Hadeln. They let him out just a few weeks ago.»

Nanni the Producer «My first films were produced by other people but they all gave me the greatest freedom possible. Then I founded Sacher with Barbagallo. I did it because I wanted to discover new directors and I was right. Mazzacurati, Luchetti and Calopresti all began with me and they have an excellent reputation in Italy. Inadevertently I also wanted to make films in a different way. I wanted to be able to gather material without knowing what I would do with it. That is how films like Palombella rossa, Caro diario and Aprile were born. I often shoot footage that I don´t use.» And he screens a short film he made in 1991 where a group of former political extremists find themselves in a train compartment and start quarrelling so ferociously that it seems that twenty minutes and not twenty years have passed since extra-parliamentary parties like Potere operaio and the Trotzkists held sway in Italy. «This was a disgusting film and I never used it,» he says. The film is followed by images of Moretti undergoing chemotherapy (Dear Diary), a speech that Lombard League leader, Umberto Bossi gave in Parliament, the protest march that took place on April 24 1994 (Aprile), Moretti´s last waterpolo championship match (Palombella Rossa). Every little helps.

Nanni the Actor This is a never-ending chapter that begins back in October 1972, «I was in high school and a friend asked me what I wanted to be. I said I wanted to work in films. He said, «Yeah, but as what? An actor? Director?» and I said «Both». I came across as presumptious and confused but that is what I really believed. And the rest is history: Padre Padrone for the Tavianis, Il portaborse, La seconda volta and the myriad transformations of Michele Apicella, a character «that I and I alone could play». Michalkov asked Moretto to board Oci ciornie and Kieslowski «wanted me for The Double Life of Veronica but that is when I started to get ill.»

Nanni the Perfectionist A flood of cutting remarks directed at RAI (for refusing to fund Il Portaborse), Retequattro for interrupting a tribute to Fellini and the screening of La Dolce Vita with a total of 40 minutes and 52 seconds´ worth of adverts. Nanni the Perfectionist remembers them all. Spot after spot after spot.

(Translated from Italian)

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