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Sebastiano Riso • Director

"With Una famiglia I created monsters"

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- Una famiglia, the latest film by Sebastiano Riso is being shown in competition at Venice, and stars Patrick Bruel and Micaela Ramazzotti. We have met up with the director

Sebastiano Riso  • Director
(© La Biennale di Venezia - foto ASAC)

UPDATE (5 September 2017): The film has just screened at the 74th Venice Film Festival.

With Darker Than Midnight [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, 35 year-old Sicilian director Sebastiano Riso sparked curiosity among audiences at Critics’ Week at Cannes in 2014, presenting us with a young transgender man on the run. Now he’s back with his second work, Una famiglia [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Matilda De Angelis
interview: Sebastiano Riso
film profile
]
, which was produced by Indiana with Rai Cinema and the participation of Bac Films, and has been selected in competition at the 74th Venice International Film Festival. The cast once again features Micaela Ramazzotti, who appeared in the director’s first film, alongside French star Patrick Bruel. In this sort of social noir filmed in Rome, the desperate desire to be a mother of a woman leads her to accompany her partner in a mysterious and scary project. A project that aims to help couples who can’t have children. 

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The film also stars Pippo DelbonoFortunato CerlinoMarco LeonardiMatilda De Angelis, and Ennio Fantastichini. The screenplay is by Andrea Cedrola and Stefano Grasso with the director. Una famiglia will be distributed in Italy by Bim and in France by Bac, which is handling international sales.

"I’m truly honoured," says Riso, "to be in competition at Venice, a festival with such an important history, which has hosted the biggest directors and actors in contemporary film. And I’m delighted to be able to share this experience with my actors, on the set the story deeply moved all of us."

Cineuropa: How did Una famiglia come about?
Sebastiano Riso: It’s based on true events. The producer, Fabrizio Donvito, put us in touch with a public prosecutor who gave us two thousand pages of an investigation into a form of trafficking that has always existed, in a cross-cutting form, across Italy and France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Europe as a whole. I don’t want to give anything else away. The film tells the story of the manipulation of the male protagonist, who also uses a language other than French as a way of controlling and holding cultural supremacy over his partner. 

What was it like working with Bruel?
Patrick is an unusual and complex character: he’s a pop star, a highly successful actor, and a world poker champion. It was easy working with him. He trusted us completely, not knowing any Italian, and we forged a strong relationship. He’s hugely intense, he has total control of his face and body. He gave this character, who’s ‘monstrous’, a deep sense of humanity, in a new way of portraying evil. With Micaela Ramazzotti he contributed a lot to the film. Micaela did some excellent things with her character. The two characters slowly reveal who they really are. They were a very close-knit duo, even in the strongest and most difficult scenes. When they saw the film in Paris, Patrick was shocked.

Was the screenplay written with a French protagonist in mind?
Yes. Our two countries are very similar but there are some things that are profoundly different. I met with Patrick on many occasions to try to understand how the two cultures could create short circuits, circumventing the old clichés. This also allowed me to portray Italy from a certain distance. We’re already writing my third film, which will also star French actors. 

(Translated from Italian)

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