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VENICE 2020 Out of Competition

Giuseppe Pedersoli • Director of The Truth About La Dolce Vita

“We believed a real debt was owed to the figure of the producer in the history of cinema”

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- VENICE 2020: We chatted with Giuseppe Pedersoli, director of The Truth About La Dolce Vita which is screening Out of Competition on the Lido

Giuseppe Pedersoli • Director of The Truth About La Dolce Vita

Cineuropa spoke to Giuseppe Pedersoli, who’s making his directorial debut after a primarily production-based career. His debut feature film - a docufilm supported by the Istituto Luce Cinecittà - is intitled The Truth About La Dolce Vita [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Giuseppe Pedersoli
film profile
]
and was presented Out of Competition at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: How did this project come about?
Giuseppe Pedersoli:
The project came about because of the co-occurrence, partly ruined by the onset of Coronavirus, of the sixty-year anniversary of the release of La Dolce Vita, which was first screened in Rome’s Fiamma cinema on 5 February 1960, and the one hundred-year anniversary of Federico Fellini’s birth, both of which represented the perfect opportunity to explore certain aspects of his work. Clearly, there’s also a direct link with my grandfather, Giuseppe Amato, who I knew only very briefly as he passed away when I was just three years old, but whom I’d always heard people say was a fascinating person; he was something of a legend in our family for everything he’d done, from the time of silent cinema right up to the early 1960s. He intrigued me because I wondered how it could be that a man - a producer who’d made the most successful Italian film of all time, to that point – wouldn’t be able to make the most of that success, his huge earnings; in fact, he passed away shortly after... The only person who could give me the explanations I needed was my mother, his only remaining daughter, who was familiar with the situation. Together with other relatives, we managed to pull together an exclusive and unprecedented record of his work on La Dolce Vita, dated between 1958 and 1961. The story wrote itself. The huge amount of correspondence composed of letters, telegrams, quotes, final accounts, production meeting minutes, disputes and betrayals recounted events as they happened on an almost daily basis. One interesting fact is that, generally speaking, Fellini typed in red, Angelo Rizzoli had green-headed paper and signed his name with a green pen, and Giuseppe Amato wrote in black on black-headed paper. Even in a visual sense the three of them fulfilled specific roles.

How did you coordinate the writing process with Giorgio Serafini?
Our job was to lend coherence and logic to all the production stages, trying not to be too didactic but remaining faithful to the three protagonists’ writings. I wanted to avoid any kind of personal interpretation; in fact, I wasn’t even born when La Dolce Vita was produced. I read various interpretations which only gave a view of the film from the director’s perspective, and we believed a real debt was owed to the figure of the producer in the history of cinema. Fellini had tried to put the film together with various producers, he’d won two Oscars alongside De Laurentiis, who was very sceptical over the content of the screenplay and the risks linked to the film’s elevated production costs. The director forwarded the script to Amato just after the summer of ’58, who read it overnight and was blown away. He saw in that script the embryo of a great film. The work I embarked upon with Serafini was a reconstruction of these events, so as not to betray them in their vital moments, so as to offer up previously unreleased information and to create an interesting and compelling product.

How long did the production cycle take?
It lasted roughly one year and three months. Obviously, we, too, were struggling at a certain point during lockdown. Luckily, as this was a docufilm with a lot of third-party sources, we managed to finish everything in time, even though production would usually have taken six to eight months.

Are there any other projects in the pipeline?
Giorgio Serafini and I are working on a project that’s very ambitious from a production point of view, an international series intitled The Rebel Queen. There’s also the potential production of an international co-production about my father Carlo Pedersoli [professionally known as Bud Spencer] before he became an actor. But for my next directorial project, I would like to work on a little-known character in Italian history, Ugo Spadafora, a graduate of the University of Bologna and a doctor who, over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, fought in the worst guerrilla wars affecting Central and South America and subsequently ended up opposing Noriega, the dictator of Panama and a drugs smuggler, who captured and decapitated Spadafora. His head was never found.

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(Translated from Italian)

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