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VENICE 2020 Competition

Claudio Noce • Director of Padrenostro

“As children, we lived in a climate of fear, without much of an explanation from our parents”

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- VENICE 2020: Italy’s Claudio Noce speaks to us about Padrenostro, in which he takes on a traumatic part of his own childhood

Claudio Noce • Director of Padrenostro
(© La Biennale di Venezia / ASAC / Giorgio Zucchiatti)

In Padrenostro [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Claudio Noce
film profile
]
, premiering in competition at the 77th edition of the Venice International Film Festival, director Claudio Noce takes on a traumatic part of his own childhood, as he grew up with a police-commissioner father during the “Years of Lead” and was dangerously close to the crossfire of Italian terrorism.

Cineuropa: Padrenostro, without comparison, is your most personal film. What made you take that step?
Claudio Noce:
My artistic journeys always start within myself, but thus far I’ve dealt with stories that I’ve been interested in, like different aspects of immigration, but without a personal experience. I then got to the point where I felt that if I wanted to move forward as an artist, I would have to gather courage and cross a bridge into a story where I, myself, am the central focus. Not for cinematic reasons, mind you, but for personal development. For many years, I have wanted to tell this story but have not been able to find the right angle – my attempts have always looked far too private. I then started shifting the perspective to something more universal, while still keeping the personal essence. The child, Valerio, shares the childhood that I had, and also that of my brother.

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In the film, the boy does not have your name and is also about ten years older. Can you talk about these choices?
The starting point is, of course, very autobiographical, but then the story develops and goes in other directions, some of them fictional. I needed this for the dramatic structures and the shifting of perspectives. But first and last, the movie is about a generation of “invisible” children – me and my brother, and many others from those years. It’s about the feeling of war in the air and the fear of my father not coming back home one day. As children, we lived in a climate of fear, without much of an explanation from our parents.

Did the “therapy” of making the film work for you?
I should be able to tell you in a few days. What is happening right now, however, seems to confirm that it worked. The journey of Valerio is my journey.

The adopted term is “Anni di piombo”, or the “Years of Lead”, and there have been a number of films about this period coming out of Italy ever since the 1970s and Elio Petri, for example. More recently, we had Marco Bellocchio’s Good Morning, Night [+see also:
trailer
interview: Marco Bellocchio, director …
film profile
]
. What are your thoughts on the longevity of this, if you will, “genre”?
I belong to a younger generation than Elio Petri, of course – the generation I wanted to portray in the film. Many important movies have indeed been made – this is a wound in Italian society that has not yet healed. And also, Petri made his films “in the moment”. He also took sides, which I do not. I think we need time to process a thing like this. It’s not easy, and you can get it wrong. My desire with Padrenostro was to show the zeitgeist through the eyes of a child. Perhaps this is a new take, not shown by Petri or the others. I hope it is.

Did the pandemic affect the production, and have you been able to plan for your next project, given the current state of things?
We finished in time, luckily. During the lockdown, I’ve had time for some deep reflection on many subjects, including how we are changing right now, as a world. I have no doubt that my next film will be about this change, and very much a story “in the moment”.

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