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Paolo Virzì • Director

"I make my films for audiences"


- CANNES 2016: There was loud applause at the Directors’ Fortnight screening of Like Crazy by Livornese director Paolo Virzì, the story of two women on the run from a therapeutic community

Paolo Virzì • Director
(© Directors' Fortnight)

At the Cannes Film Festival, Paolo Virzì’s film, Like Crazy [+see also:
film review
Q&A: Paolo Virzì
film profile
, which was selected for Directors’ Fortnight, received loud applause from an audience moved by the story of two women (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Micaela Ramazzotti) on the run from a therapeutic community. “I make my films for audiences, to give them an experience, and the way the film was received by the audience at Cannes was truly touching”, said Virzì speaking to the Italian press. “It struck me just how much they liked the tragicomic side of the story, which is recognised as a typically Italian trait abroad, in the style of Fellini”. Like Crazy will be released in Italy on 17 May, and the number of copies being distributed has been increased to 320, in response to high demand from cinemas. International sales of the film are being handled by BAC Films.

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Virzì’s next film will be shot in America, and will star Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. His international debut is based on the book The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian, but the film adaptation of this story about a getaway to the East Coast of America will be very different from the book, with a screenplay written by the director with Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo and Stephen Amidon (the writer of Human Capital [+see also:
interview: Paolo Virzì
film profile
). Filming is set to start in July, and the film will be produced by Indiana, BAC Films and Rai Cinema (see article).

Comedy seems to be gradually earning its rightful place at major festivals.
Paolo Virzì: It’s a cyclical thing. Film was born with Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, it can make you feel sad and it can make you laugh. We’re artists in this circus with the duty to get a liberating and cathartic laugh out of the viewer. It’s the best possible way of releasing us from life’s sorrows. Having lost the idealistic drive of youth, my political motto now is to limit the damage. And that’s what my film does. 

Micaela and Valeria really are an ‘odd couple’ in the film. What was it like on set?
We said to Valeria: go for it, and it turned out that she couldn’t wait to. They’re two very different actresses. Valeria comes from a big aristocratic family, like the Buddenbrooks, and Micaela comes from the coastal area of Rome. But both of them brought great emotion to the film, they’re not at all ashamed to put themselves out there, even their more ridiculous sides. Together, the girl from Paris and the girl from Ostia produce formidable chemistry.

And the characters are also profoundly different.
Beatrice is arrogant and really wealthy, she avoided prison thanks to her lawyers and her frail mental condition, and believes she’s the master of everything. Then there’s Donatella, the new arrival who’s closed and hurt and, with Beatrice, feels respected for the first time in her life. 

So your next project will be an American film.
I’m thrilled to have this cast. We hope we can measure up to these two legendary actors. Helen Mirren is one of the most extraordinary actresses around today, and Donald Sutherland was one of the heroes of New Hollywood, thinking of films like M.A.S.H.

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(Translated from Italian)

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