Stefano Mordini • Director
"I worked on an awkward character"
- CANNES 2016: We met up with Italian director Stefano Mordini, the director of Pericle the Black, which was selected in Un Certain Regard
Ahead of the official screening of Pericle the Black [+see also:
interview: Stefano Mordini
film profile] in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, we met up with director Stefano Mordini and the producer and star of the film, Riccardo Scamarcio (Buena Onda). Scamarcio discussed the film’s poor box-office results with a tongue-in-cheek kind of bitterness – it drew in just 19,470 viewers when it was released a week ago in Italy, courtesy of BIM. "We should be happy nonetheless. It’s an experimental project that took a lot of risks; it’s not a recognisable or comforting movie, which is what audiences tend to like more and more these days." And the fact remains that the film was selected by a prestigious section of the festival. "The selectors liked it a lot, and they are the same selectors as the ones for the competition. They also mentioned the two exceptional actors (Scamarcio and Marina Foïs). But today, the discussions about cinema have simmered down considerably if we compare it to the 1970s, and there is actually less room for discussion. In a society with so much media coverage, you’re forced to communicate in just a few characters." Scamarcio also talked about the interest shown in the film at the market: "The film piques people’s curiosity – the people who see it are struck by this unique character who is initially very unpleasant."
Cineuropa: The film draws its inspiration from a novel; what interested you about the project?
Stefano Mordini: It was initially suggested to Scamarcio by Abel Ferrara. I read Riccardo’s proposal with great interest. It was an excellent occasion to work on an awkward character in a tricky context, getting to grips with the stylistic traits of the genre. We made a start and waited for the project to give something back to us. At the beginning, it was very difficult to find anyone who would take an interest in the film. Then some high-profile co-producers came on board, such the Dardenne brothers, with Les Films du Fleuve.
The book is set in Naples and other Italian cities. Was the move to Belgium and France a choice that resulted from the co-production?
No. The idea for the writing came out of the context, and we had already planned for the movie to take place in Belgium and France before producers Viola Prestieri and Valeria Golino submitted it to the Dardennes, who have complete faith in their working methods.
The theatrical release didn’t go so well…
Generally speaking, the market is struggling. It’s an important moment in history, when it’s hard to connect with the audience – even for politics, not just for art. I have dedicated my life to only three films; I don’t rush things. We need to redefine our values: you can’t do three years of work and then take a gamble on the success of a film in just three days. We need to build up a debate again between auteurs, producers and critics, and then tackle the public.
(Translated from Italian)
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