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Marco Bellocchio • Director

"There’s a part of me in this story"


- CANNES 2016: Italian director Marco Bellocchio chatted to the Italian press about Sweet Dreams, which was selected to open the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes

Marco Bellocchio  • Director
(© Directors' Fortnight)

The new feature by Marco BellocchioSweet Dreams [+see also:
film review
Q&A: Marco Bellocchio
film profile
, was chosen to open the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. Based on the best-seller Sweet Dreams, Little One by Massimo Gramellini, the movie portrays a boy’s long struggle to come to terms with his grief following the death of his mother, and stars Valerio Mastandrea and Berenice Bejo. Produced by IBC Movie together with Kavac and Rai Cinema, in addition to French outfit Ad Vitam, the film will come out in Italy in the autumn, courtesy of 01 Distribution. This morning, Bellocchio chatted to the Italian press.

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What interested you in particular about this story – enough to make a film adaptation of it?
Marco Bellocchio: It was producer Beppe Caschetto who suggested it to me; I hadn’t read the book at that point. But when I did, I found that it was a human tragedy that really captivated me. I was won over by the drama in the novel: the death of a mother, being left an orphan when you’re still a kid. There’s a lower-middle-class boy in a city in Northern Italy (Turin is a city I wasn’t overly familiar with), and there’s Italian history and television history. For example, I’m interested in bringing different languages and styles together: the kind of TV shows that Raffaella Carrà did, the Olympic swimming and the Belphegor series, which was present in the book. That melting pot really characterises the point of view you see in the film. 

Was Gramellini involved in the screenwriting process at all?
No, he never got on board. I wrote the screenplay with Edoardo Albinati and Valia Santella, and the process was rather complicated. The novel covers 30 or 40 years of a person’s life, which meant that we needed to identify places where we could condense and summarise. I’m not au fait with modern society, but there was reason to make a film about your tragic career as a journalist, about your superficiality. The callous dimension of it, holding onto the present, the everyday. In the movie, all of this is boiled down in the scene where Massimo is lucky enough to find that he is an insider during a particular incident of the Tangentopoli (a corruption scandal involving government ministers, industrialists and businessmen), and then in the scene set in Sarajevo, where a photojournalist is taking photos of a child next to his dead mother.

What do you think you have in common with the author of the novel (a journalist), when you yourself are heading in the opposite direction to this form of shallowness?
Of course, we have different perceptions, but I glimpsed something in his story that, deep down, was a part of me. Even in such a distant story, you can still find connections, something that involves you in some way. His relationship with his mother is both opposite and complementary to that with the mother in my debut film, Fists in the Pocket, who was pushed into the ravine. In this case, she is a much-revered mother. Alessandro, the lead character in Fists in the Pocket, kills his mother because she never gave him anything, while in this movie we have a symbiotic relationship. 

In any case, the relationship one has with one’s mother is something that concerns us all.
I have never met anyone who has told me, “I adore my mother – she’s perfect.” But the action in the film compels him to try to change, to be different. Even in Good Morning, Night, I was really interested in the terrorist played by Maya Sansa in order to convey the sense of change, the sense of a way of escaping from passiveness, when compared to her own situation.

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(Translated from Italian)

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