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Salvatore Mereu • Director

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- Two girls living in a downtrodden Cagliari neighborhood star in an exhilarating, bitter comedy

Salvatore Mereu • Director

Based on a story by the same name by deceased writer Sergio Atzeni, who has a cult following in Sardinia, Bellas Mariposas [+see also:
trailer
film profile
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is an exhilarating and bitter comedy by Salvatore Mereu (Sonetaula) which leaves a mark. Cate and Luna are the two main characters. They come from underprivileged families in Cagliari, in the outskirts of Sant’Elia.

The director produced the film with his wife together with Viacolvento, in collaboration with Rai Cinema and the autonomous region of Sardinia, the Sardinia Istituto Superiore Etnografico, with support from the Sardegna Film Commission. “There are talks going on,” explains Mereu, “but we do not have distribution yet. I am sorry to say so, but in the last few years it seems that the space allocated to these types of films has diminished further.”

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Cineuropa: How was the idea of adapting Bellas Mariposas to the big screen born?
Salvatore Mereu: I spent a year in the Sant’Elia neighborhood during the filming of my last film, Tajabone, trying to penetrate a community which does not like being looked at by outsiders. Adapting a story was certainly not easy. There is only one narrating voice, which continuously jumps from one thing to the next with no punctuation.

That is true, Sara, one of the main characters, is always talking to the spectator, looking into the camera…
The choice was already there in the story, which is one of its strong points. But doing this on screen can also be a pitfall, especially if you put it into the hands of a non-professional actress. Sara and I decided to take that risk. Let us hope we made the right decision.

Many of your roles, including both main ones, were given to inexperienced actors
I wanted to mix up professional actors and non professional ones. In this film, I also included theatre actors. Mixing professionals with non is more of a delicate thing, but it also makes it more interesting.

In the film, all your characters speak in dialect.
Maintaining the true language people speak there was so important to me. I never had any doubts about that, even if it would make the film’s life harder inside movie theaters.

How did you find Cate and Luna?
Through a number of auditions in schools. We worked as if we wanted to put on a play. I made the working plan in chronological order so that they would discover the film’s direction day after day.

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