Sydney Sibilia • Director
"I just wanted to make people laugh"
- We met the director who made his debut with an exhilarating comedy that quickly won over the public and critics.
In the year of the Italian Oscar for The Great Beauty [+see also:
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
film profile] and of record-breaking debuts, I Can Quit Whenever I Want [+see also:
interview: Sydney Sibilia
film profile] is one of the most loved films by the public (in its first weekend of programming it brought in almost one million euro) and is critically acclaimed, even if it was "betrayed" by the David (12 nominations and no award) and by the Silver Ribbons (4 nominations, no prize). Only the foreign press offered the film a second chance, awarding it the Golden Globe for Best Comedy of the 2013/2014 season. Distributed in France since 6 August with Bellissima Films, the movie will soon have its sequel, directed once again by the young and talented Sydney Sibilia, who told Cineuropa: "I get sick just thinking about the next film, they'll all be lying in wait for me, like snipers".
Cineuropa: The film begins its voyage abroad.
Sydney Sibilia: I'm curious to see how it will play out in France. I'm not really recognised abroad. Up to now I've read just two reviews by an Israeli journalist and an English one; they were fantastic and accurate. In France the movie is being released in few cinemas, nonetheless it will be a little test.
The economic crisis transforms seven brilliant unemployed graduates into drug dealers. The theme of employment is very current in cinema.
I didn't really base the movie on a theme. I didn't want to pass judgment on something in particular. I wanted to tell a story that would make people laugh. Certainly in comedy laughter triggers empathy and in a way the topic is familiar for many people. But I just wanted to describe a gang of quasi 'super heroes', I wasn't thinking about social satire. I later discovered that people had really taken the issue seriously, but personally I consider myself an entertainer solely; I don’t have any socio-political aspirations.
The film is dotted with quotations. What kind of cinema did you have in mind when you wrote it?
I'm a consumer through and through. I like all types of cinema, all genres, and I enjoy auteur cinema. In the future there'll be other comedies and then maybe I'll want to tackle other genres. Writing the film was a sincere endeavour, because sometimes you see films that aren't even liked by their own creators! We wanted to make a movie that we would enjoy going to see in the cinema. We made a list of all the things that we liked in cinema and we condensed all of that into the film, our only objective was entertainment. We didn't take ourselves too seriously.
It's been a year for debuts in the feature-films arena. Have you seen the other first works?
I might have been the only debut to talk about, and instead it's been the year of first works! I've seen Zoran My Nephew the Idiot [+see also:
interview: Matteo Oleotto
film profile] - Matteo Oletto is a friend - I've seen Mafia Only Kills In Summer [+see also:
interview: Pierfrancesco Diliberto
film profile] by Pif and also Miele [+see also:
interview: Valeria Golino
interview: Valeria Golino
film profile] by Valeria Golino, but I haven't seen Salvo [+see also:
interview: Fabio Grassadonia and Anton…
interview: Sara Serraiocco
film profile]. It's great that there have been so many new names, also because when a film does well, it does everyone some good, when it doesn’t go well it's like as if it goes wrong for everyone. I'm really struck when I see great movies, like Zoran. I think that in this way people become more attached to cinema. It's a system that feeds itself, and not just in economic terms but also in emotional terms: if a viewer really enjoys the show he/she will return to the cinema the next time round.
On the one hand you have the crisis of the “Christmas” comedy; on the other you have a new form of comedy, more polished, sophisticated.
"A film has to be aimed at everyone, a bit of subtle comedy but a bit of crude humour too. The great films are those that speak to the whole audience at the same time. That’s what we need to do".
Was it difficult to convince the producers to make the movie?
I was lucky; I had made a short film with Matteo Rovere, who is also one of the producers of this film. Together we went to see Domenico Procacci at Fandango. He liked the short and he accepted. It all happened very quickly, I was the one who slowed things down for artistic reasons, I was waiting on the right actors, and I did lengthy tests in order to find the best ones. And they’re all good. Some of them became famous in the meantime, some afterwards, like Stefano Fresi: you simply can’t make a movie without Stefano Fresi nowadays.
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