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Germano Maccioni • Director

”Impermanence helps us to live in a more conscious and lively way”

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- LOCARNO 2017: We got the chance to talk to Italian filmmaker Germano Maccioni, whose debut fiction film The Asteroids competed for the Golden Leopard

Germano Maccioni • Director
(© Locarno Festival / Massimo Pedrazzini)

Italian documentary filmmaker Germano Maccioni presented his debut fiction feature film, The Asteroids [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Germano Maccioni
film profile
]
, as part of the International Competition at the 70th Locarno Film Festival. We got the chance to talk to him about this transition from documentary to fiction and what the threat of an asteroid really entails.

Cineuropa: How easy was it for you to move from documentary to fiction? Are there any similarities or is it a whole new process?
Germano Maccioni: I’m used to considering stories based on their own power, without any previous genre distinction; in this sense it has been a sort of natural shift for me.  Even my first documentaries were treated as stories, not as documentaries themselves. Of course, the production system is completely different and more complicated. It’s a matter of management and habits. I struggled a bit with having a big crew around me and limited opportunities for improvisation. Fiction forces you to make radical and quick decisions and to learn new methods… I can’t wait to apply them, and possibly evolve them, in my next feature.

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What is the real threat of an asteroid?
The asteroid has a metaphorical meaning for me: it reminds us of our impermanence, as Buddhism teaches, the impermanence of the human being, of everything. It does not matter if you are an incredibly concrete and material person, or very spiritual: each aspect of our lives – our feelings, jobs and family affairs – can suddenly change without any notice or explanation. It’s about the precariousness of mankind - the impermanent nature of things helping us to live in a more conscious and lively way.

Dealing with the financial crisis is not a new subject of course, what was the inspiration behind your decision to take on this subject matter?
I’ve never considered the financial crisis to be the subject of The Asteroids. I was not interested in making a “sociological film.” I prefer to view the financial crisis as part of a specific space-and-time description. The story develops in this frame of reference, one that I am more familiar with. I’ve let this background come out and unavoidably it became a co-protagonist in the film.

Do you think that using non-professional actors enhances the realistic aspect of your film?
Yes, the kids are a leading force in the film and they definitely brought a sense of freshness to it. We scouted them out after a six-month long workshop in five high schools around Bologna, our city, engaging more than one hundred young boys. But I really love to mix things up; I wouldn’t want to make a film that only included non-professional actors or talented people. To me it’s important to put them together, even if it means extra effort is needed to direct them.

You shot the film in your home region, is it easier for you to work in a familiar place or does it create more challenges?
It was definitely easier, and it was beautiful. We could bank on human relationships  as well as professional ones. We met and engaged a lot of people and local organisations and were aware of their affection and availability. It was like the whole region helped us to make the film. Being familiar with places and situations makes the work easier and is more satisfying.

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