Luca Guadagnino • Director
"Elio, our very own Antoine Doinel"
by Vittoria Scarpa
- The day after the announcement that Luca Guadagnino's latest film had been nominated for four Oscars, the Palermo-born director met with journalists in Rome to talk about Call Me By Your Name
Fifty awards won worldwide, three Golden Globes nominations, four BAFTA nominations, six Independent Spirit Awards, winner of Best Film at the Gotham Awards and, last but not least, four Oscars nominations (for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Adapted Screenplay and Original Song - read the news here) – and so Call Me By Your Name [+see also:
Q&A: Luca Guadagnino
film profile]’s extraordinary journey continues. Director Luca Guadagnino spoke to journalists in Rome, the day before the film’s release in Italian cinemas (25 January with Warner).
Any off-the-cuff comments following the Oscar nominations?
Luca Guadagnino: The film came to life at Sundance exactly a year ago, and ever since that initial screening we've received an extraordinary reception. We were convinced that we’d made a good film, but we didn't quite expect it to resonate the way it has. From that moment onwards, a journey began, and it hasn’t stopped. A journey that has taught us that passion and the unexpected often go hand-in-hand. We're delighted, because we made this film just for the pleasure of doing so, in the spirit of the cinema that I love, and in the unique corner of Italy that is Cremona.
Why do you think your film has struck a chord with the Academy?
I get so many letters from men, women, young people, etc. telling me that watching the film is a transformative experience and has allowed them to resolve certain issues. It's a film about empathy, compassion, the transmission of knowledge, the ability to see yourself in others. I think they’re vital emotional forms in a modern era that is so fragmented and angry.
Call Me By Your Name is a gay love story, but it's also a family film that resonates with everyone. What's your secret?
I don't necessarily think it’s a gay love story, but rather a film about someone on the cusp of becoming someone else. I also like to think of it as a film about desire, going beyond gender. And finally, yes, it's a family film. I thought it could potentially be the first step towards a canon that I’ve always admired: the Disney canon, i.e. a certain type of emotional story in which the family unit is a space in which everyone helps each other to progress.
The film is also about discovering sensuality. The final speech given by Elio's father – but also his mother's attitude – denotes a certain open-mindedness that seems incredible in 2018, let alone in the '80s...
1983 marked the end of an era, the results of which we’re still experiencing to this day. The generation of the 1970s – starting in ‘68 – introduced us to the ability to be intellectually open, but its transformed into a sort of inarticulation, so it feels weird to see parents also passing on emotional wisdom to their children.
In terms of the overall look of the film, the elegant and welcoming movements, and the sound editing – which is so particular – how did the actors' performances influence your decisions?
Over time I’ve learnt that the most important thing is movement within the frame, that's how a scene comes to life, starting from the individual elements that compose it. I tend to forget about the screenplay and start from scratch with my actors, so that we can create something together. Then comes the most important phase: the editing, where we have the task of making sure that this thing that we’ve created on set is enriched, and that the honesty of the actors’ performances comes out. My dear editor friend, Walter Fasano, who I’ve worked with for almost thirty years, shares my passion for a deconstructivist imagination – we like to find harmony in dissonance.
What’s your relationship with Italian cinema like? Do you feel like a lone wolf?
I am not a loner, per se, but thanks to my education, I think of cinema as something transversal, without any particular hierarchy linked to nationality. The experience that influenced me the most cinematically is new wave cinema, movements that have revolutionised the language of cinema in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan... That said, my relationship with Italian cinema is wonderful, I have mutually influential relationships with many directors, including Italian directors.
What is the best comment you've received from a fellow director?
At the Golden Globes Christopher Nolan approached me and told me that he thought the way I had recreated the ‘80s in the film was impressive. A comment that filled me with pride, because I consider myself to be an artisan.
Have you brought anything from Palermo to your films?
There is definitely something there, the subconscious never lies. I think I’ve learned something about sensuality from Palermo. But it’s also an aggressive and violent place.
Is it true that there might be a Call Me By Your Name sequel?
I've felt real passion for these characters, who have been brought to life by these actors. While re-watching the film in Berlin with the audience, I got the feeling that the lives of Elio, Oliver, Mr. Perlman, his wife and their friends, in all their simplicity, can tell us something about ourselves. So if there’s an opportunity to get everyone back together again, maybe we’ll carry on telling these characters’ stories, humbly taking inspiration from François Truffaut and his films about Antoine Doinel. Of course, we already have our Doinel.
(Translated from Italian)
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