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VENICE 2019 Out of Competition

Francesca Archibugi • Director of Vivere

“Where there’s family conflict, there’s a story”


- VENICE 2019: We sat with Italian director Francesca Archibugi to ask her a few questions about her film Vivere, screened out of competition in Venice

Francesca Archibugi  • Director of Vivere
(© Andrea Miconi)

Francesca Archibugi presented her new feature film Vivere [+see also:
film review
interview: Francesca Archibugi
film profile
out of competition at the Venice International Film Festival. Scheduled for release in Italian cinemas on 26 September, the movie is produced by Lotus Production and Rai Cinema, in association with 3 Marys Entertainment. Starring in the cast and playing lead roles are Micaela Ramazzotti, Adriano Giannini, Marcello Fonte, Massimo Ghini, Róisín O'Donovan and Enrico Montesano. We put a few questions to the director – who also wrote the film alongside Francesco Piccolo and Paolo Virzì – on the themes covered by her work and a couple of the cast members she chose.

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Cineuropa: The film recounts the intricate ups and downs of a dysfunctional family, an often-explored theme in contemporary Italian cinema. What sets the Attorre family apart?
Francesca Archibugi:
Chaplin used to say that happy marriages do exist, but they’re tedious to watch in film. Where there’s family conflict, there’s a story: in film, in literature - it’s always been the case, not just in Italian cinema. Anna Karenina is about a dysfunctional family, as is American Pastoral by Philip Roth, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and Normal People by Sally Rooney. I could go on! Stories - each different from the other - are then developed between the characters off the back of this conflict, but the driving force of it all is the difficulty of being with those closest to us. The Attorre family is drowning: there are issues with money, the little girl’s asthma, the feeling of being a failure at work and of not being all that young anymore; they have a home that’s starting to show cracks but is still standing... With the arrival of Mary Ann, a young woman from abroad, these cracks begin to spread.

Marcello Fonte plays the strange neighbour. What led you to choose Fonte for this part?
There’s something unique about Marcello as an actor. He conveys the mix of gentleness and concern that was required to play this industrial expert neighbour; an ordinary but mysterious personality. I didn’t want the audience to understand who he was and what he wanted from the family until the very end.

Young Róisín O'Donovan, meanwhile, plays Mary Ann, the Irish au pair living with the Attorre family. What were the acting qualities you sought out for this role? How was it working with her on set?
From the very first audition, it was clear that Róisín was highly talented; with her typical Irish looks, she brought a little bit of her homeland on set with her, and she also has a great technique. She graduated from the Lir Academy in Dublin, which has produced so many wonderful actors. Before we started shooting, we spent months working with a dialogue coach so that she could really immerse herself in the text, but also feel at ease enough to improvise, rather than simply regurgitating memorised lines. It was a lot of work for her: it was difficult but exhilarating.

Do you have any new projects on the horizon? Would you like to explore the dysfunctional family theme again in the future?
I’m in the process of writing now. For my next film, I’m imagining a family not related by blood whose members come together in the aftermath of a terrible event. At the end of the day, life itself is dysfunctional, even if in the midst of hardship there’s always a need for light-heartedness, and there’s a degree of unintentional humour attached to living.

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(Translated from Italian)

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