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Andrea Magnani • Director

"A quasi-dead person carrying around a dead person is a perfect metaphor to talk about suffering"

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- We met up with the director of Easy, Andrea Magnani, at Naples Film Festival, to talk about the birth of the first Italy-Ukraine co-production and his upcoming work

Andrea Magnani • Director
(© Napoli Film Festival)

A guest in the "Parole di Cinema" section at Naples Film Festival, the morning section dedicated to students at Neapolitan high schools, the director Andrea Magnani accompanied the screening of his film Easy [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Andrea Magnani
film profile
]
, aroad movie from Italy to Ukraine, which has travelled to cinemas and film festivals, obtaining two David di Donatello nominations in the process (newcomer director and leading actor), after its premiere at the 70th Locarno Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: Easy is definitely the first Italian-Ukranian co-production. How did it come about?
Andrea Magnani:
Actually, the first version of the screenplay was set in the Balkans. At the time I lived in Trieste and imagined the natural development of the story happening there, ending in Bosnia. Then I met the people who would later become my Ukrainian co-producers at an international workshop in Greece, where I worked on the screenplay. As soon as they read Easy they fell in love with the project and suggested setting it in Ukraine. At first, I was a little sceptical, because I thought that it was a little too far away, then on Google I saw that it's the same distance from Trieste to Lviv, in western Ukraine, as it is from Trieste to Lecce: it's doable! So, I went there and discovered the ideal country. 

Ideal in what sense?
I needed a place where the protagonist felt completely lost. Ukraine is a huge country, with endless plains, alienating landscapes, abandoned Soviet-style factories...  everything is big there, while the protagonist is small, lost. Also, they speak a different language, they don't even speak English in the countryside, and the alphabet is different. In short, all the points of reference, for the character, vanish. And then when it came to Ukrainian actors, thanks to the old Soviet acting school and the Stanislavski method, I found something that's difficult to find, even in Italy. 

What inspired you to make this film?
I wanted to tell the story of a character without subplots and secondary characters, getting to the heart of his psychology. I had the image in mind of a man dragging a coffin, and the character of Isi came into existence when I realised that several people around me were suffering from depression. When a person is depressed, it’s almost as if they have died a little, bit by bit, so I thought that a quasi-dead person carrying around an actual dead person, was a perfect metaphor to talk about suffering. The rest of the film is a classic story with obstacles, where the protagonist must find a way to get around them, the story of a man who has to get his life back, battling against himself, and coming out on top, eventually.

Would you say that the film features two different Europes?
Yes, but it is not so much about East and West, it's more about a prosperous and technological Europe as opposed to a Europe anchored to certain bygone myths and realities. At the beginning, Isi is surrounded and protected by technology (his car, sat nav, mobile phone): we believe we are connected to reality, but in truth we alienate ourselves from it. When he loses this technology on the street, Isi reclaims the reality that surrounds him, finding an emotional connection with the world, something we risk losing.

Through the figure of the Ukrainian worker,I also wanted to talk about the unexpected death of someone who has to fight every day, perhaps secretly. They are around us, but we do not realise: I have tried to give dignity and a place to these people by telling their story. 

What are you working on now?
I’ve written a screenplay for a film called Paradise, which will be directed by Davide Del Degan (shooting began a few days ago, the release is scheduled for the end of 2019), the story of a witness of justice, a bitter comedy. Then I'm focusing on writing my next film, which will be very different to Easy, in the sense that it will not be a road movie, but it will still probe the main character’s psychology. It will be set in a prison and will tell the story of a man from his birth to the age of 25. Perhaps it will be less of a comedy, but let's say that in general I like to work on the thin line between comedy and the thoughtful, dramatic, and poetic aspects of life.

(Translated from Italian)

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