Edoardo de Angelis • Director
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Campania-born filmmaker Edoardo de Angelis went to Castel Volturno to shoot Indivisible, the story of two singing conjoined twins who find out they can be separated. The film was unveiled in competition in the Venice Days, and screened at Toronto.
Cineuropa: The story of two conjoined twins
Edoardo De Angelis: I wanted to make a film about separation and the pain it causes. The idea at the centre of the film is that to grow you have to do yourself harm, to hurt and cut yourself. So two conjoined twins were the perfect subject matter for conveying this feeling, for making sure that it didn’t just remain an intellectual concept and that we physically feel the pain of growing.
The Fontana twins
Angela and Marianna Fontana are two girls from Casapesenna, a small town in the Province of Caserta, which is sadly known for being the hometown of the Casalesi mafia bosses. These two girls are, in contrast, prime examples of good morals, rigour, cleanliness and honesty. I met them at a casting session, they made an impression on me and a year later, when I decided I wanted to make this film, I called them straight away.
Preparation and challenges overcome
The first challenge was to find them. We tried other options, even transforming two different actresses using special effects, but I wanted to put together something deeply real, despite the fairy-tale overtones: the whole portrayal had to be realistic. Once I found Angela and Marianna, it was all downhill from there. We just had to join them together. We worked with technicians from Makinarium, with Leonardo Cruciano, using artisan methods with prosthetics. But the girls were what ultimately made it work with their dedication and strength, because when they were working with the prosthetics they had to sit through five hours in make-up before heading out for ten hours of filming every day. They prepared together in the months leading up to filming by living practically joined at the hip, to see what it means to share even the most intimate of moments.
The balance between attraction and repulsion is a sort of aesthetic guide for me. When the screenwriter, Nicola Guaglianone, told me this story, I pushed it to one side because I didn’t want to make a film about monsters. Then I happened to see Freaks by Tod Browning, which stars Daisy and Violet Hilton, two very pretty girls with a story similar to that of Dasy and Viola (hence the similar names), and just looking at a few of their portraits from the early 1900s, I thought they were beautiful. I then understood that I could tell the story of two girls affected by a disability, but that they didn’t have to be devoid of beauty. This balance between attraction and repulsion is what convinced me to make the film. That’s how I saw them, and I think that’s how the viewer sees them too: you’re constantly asking yourself what you feel and what kind of relationship you have with these girls.
Castel Volturno is also the perfect embodiment of attraction vs. repulsion. It’s a place that was beautiful and luxurious, but is now just an empty likeness of this beauty, it bears the marks of time that has bowled right over it, looking almost like it has been bombed. But beauty still lurks in the architecture of Coppola Village, like the ongoing restoration works on villas and small houses, in total absence of any town planning scheme. I like this because it shows how life doesn’t stop.
A realistic but also visionary world
I thought up the entire sequence on the boat through a distorted vision of reality. I imagined it through the eyes of these two girls who had never abandoned their family, their astonishment in looking at the world. Furthermore, the individual that brings them there is one who collects monsters. He’s attracted by their disability, surrounds himself with special human beings. There’s a clear tribute to Marco Ferreri here (in fact, that’s exactly what this character’s called) as a film that played a big role in building Indivisible is The Ape Woman, a film that Ferreri shot in Naples, the perfect city for building, loving and dismantling freak shows.
Enzo Avitabile’s music
Avitabile and I go way back, I really love his music and this story was perfect because our worlds just came together. He’s an artist from the suburbs, an artist on the margins, but he always manages to distil great poetry from that context. We chose a very subtle soundtrack, with few musical elements, sometimes repeated, and a slightly risqué use of rhythm. The two original songs, “Indivisibili” and “Drin Drin”, on the other hand, are by Riccardo Ceres.