Danilo Caputo • Director of Sow the Wind
“I kept my eyes peeled for directors who have experience in shooting nature in a very special way”
by Teresa Vena
- BERLINALE 2020: We caught up with Danilo Caputo, director of Sow the Wind, which premiered in the Panorama section
We talked to Italian director Danilo Caputo, whose film Sow the Wind [+see also:
interview: Danilo Caputo
film profile] has premiered in the Panorama section of this year's Berlinale. In it, a young woman comes back home to the South of Italy with the intention of taking over the olive-tree grove that belonged to her late grandmother. She is faced not only with a persistent blue parasite that is attacking the trees, but also with her father, who is going through a financial crisis and is not overly keen on saving the plot of land so highly cherished by his daughter.
Cineuropa: How did you develop the story, and what was your inspiration for it?
Danilo Caputo: After my previous film, Late Season [+see also:
film profile], which ends on quite a pessimistic note, showing no way out, I wanted to think of an alternative. I wanted to describe a protagonist who doesn't surrender. My inspiration came from mythology, in a way. The struggle between Nica and her father in the movie, for example, reminds me especially of the fight between Kronos and his father. Concerning the content, I was inspired by true events from a few years ago. The olive-tree groves on the east coast of Apulia were infected by a bacterium, and there, too, it is really difficult to find a solution. The most effective thing would be to cut down all the trees within a specific radius, but people object to it.
Could you describe in a bit more detail the area where the story is set?
We shot in the province of Taranto, in Apulia, where I am also from. This is a land with a lot of contrasts, which has rarely been shown in films. If you see something about Apulia, normally you get shown a mostly touristic and idyllic view of it. I wanted to be able to share my own point of view.
How did you meet and choose the protagonist of the film?
The French producers suggested Yile Yara Vianello. She is a young Italian actress, originally from Tuscany, who lives in France. I had a really precise idea of how the main character should be played, and during a search that lasted two years, it was impossible to find the right person for it. It needed to be someone calm and with a natural radiance, since Nica loves nature in the movie, and it was important that the actress would be able to convey her bond with it in a credible fashion.
Can you tell us how you managed to shoot the scenes with the magpie?
In Italy, you are not allowed to shoot with wild magpies. This meant that we had to find a domesticated one, which we found in Poland and brought by car to Italy. The magpie was there from the beginning in the script, since I wanted to add a magical and unreal element to the story. I was amazed that the shoot with the animal went very well right from the start.
Does the cave with the stone really exist? And what was the inspiration for the legend?
We built the cave; it doesn't exist in real life. I was inspired by Northern European mythology, which holds in high esteem the “foundling” stone blocks that remained in the landscape after the ice age. The surface of the stones is often smooth and worn away, so one explanation was that they were used for different rituals, including those during which they were touched or rubbed. There are also the so-called “stones of the bride”, which brides rubbed themselves on to become fertile.
Where did you draw your inspiration from when developing the formal aspects of the film?
I kept my eyes peeled for directors who have experience in shooting nature in a very special way. In features by Naomi Kawase or Bruno Dumont, for example, nature plays the main role, and this is what I intended to do with my movie as well.
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