Asif Kapadia • Director of Diego Maradona
“Most people know the latter Maradona, when he was a beast”
by Kaleem Aftab
- CANNES 2019: We caught up with British director Asif Kapadia to discuss his insightful documentary Diego Maradona, screening out of competition
Asif Kapadia has followed up his award-winning documentaries Senna [+see also:
film profile] and Amy [+see also:
film profile] with a profile of Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest footballer who ever lived. Those debates will rage forever, but many examples of his talent can be seen in Diego Maradona [+see also:
interview: Asif Kapadia
film profile], which focuses on the seven years during which he played for Napoli, when he was at his peak, changing the fortunes of the club and, of course, winning the World Cup with the “Hand of God” goal. Kapadia talks about the film, which is screening out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Cineuropa: This is the first time you have made a film about a subject who is not dead; did that change anything in terms of your freedom to make the movie you wanted?
Asif Kapadia: In terms of independence, nothing changed, because we were left alone to make the film. To make a movie, you need image rights, so whether they are with us or not, someone is going to be controlling that with famous people. But once we had that, we were in London cutting the film and telling the story we felt was the one we wanted to tell.
Considering he was omnipresent in the media when he played for Napoli, how difficult was it to find unseen footage?
The main starting point was the fact that two cameramen – Juan Luburu, an Argentinian, and Luigi ‘Gino’ Martucci, an Italian – followed Diego around at the time. They started trailing him when he was in Argentina, they were there when he was in Barcelona, and they came to Naples as well because Maradona’s first personal manager, Jorge Cyterszpiler, had this idea of making a feature film about Diego. Some of the footage from those tapes was used on RAI, and some of it has been used in other documentaries, but the majority hasn’t been seen, and our producers were able to gain access to that.
What was the impulse behind telling the story of Maradona? Don’t we know it already?
I think most people know the latter Maradona, when he was a beast, and what we wanted to do was to say, “You kind of know that that is him now, and it has been him for a while.” And so you have to ask the question: “How did he become that?” When he went to Naples, he wasn’t like that at all, and then he becomes hugely successful, wins the World Cup, is the best player in the world and wins all sorts of titles, but the problems start there. That is why we chose that story.
Given that he is alive, how come you didn’t take a camera to shoot the interviews with him and only used audio instead?
The first time I went to see Maradona in Dubai, I took a camera along, and it was such a complicated process to get in to meet him that I preferred to keep it simple when I was doing these interviews. I guess I’ve done other films in a certain style without talking-head interviews – I did Senna and Amy, and it was a style we played with there. Because we had this footage and archive material of him at the time, for me, filming him now would not have added anything to it. It was about trying to capture him in a way where he would ignore the machine and the process.
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