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BIF&ST 2021

Marco Amenta • Director of Through the Waves

“Film is interesting because it’s a window which lets us see inside characters’ minds”


- The Italian director speaks about his new movie, a psychological film noir which marks a total break from his previous works, and which is screening in Bari’s 12th Bif&st

Marco Amenta  • Director of Through the Waves
(© Bif&st)

The author of various socially engaged documentaries (about the mafia, the Bosnian War, Berlusconi), as well as a fiction film about the state witness Rita Atria who committed suicide at just 17 years of age, director and photojournalist Marco Amenta, who was born in Palermo and who graduated in Cinematography in Paris, has opted for a total change in direction for his second fiction feature. Through the Waves [+see also:
interview: Marco Amenta
film profile
, which is competing in the 12th Bif&st - Bari International Film Festival within the Italian Premieres section, is a psychological film noir whose two main characters, played by Vincenzo Amato and Sveva Alviti, embark upon a journey, falling halfway between dream and reality, aboard a refrigerated truck (which is carrying a red-hot load).

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Cineuropa: Why the sudden change with respect to your previous works?
Marco Amenta: It’s a different film, but it’s part of the same path. I come from a realist background, I was a photojournalist reporting on wars and mafia stories, then I moved into documentaries, primarily exploring social themes, and then into fiction. La siciliana ribelle was a realist mafia story, but the girl’s psychological journey was also a significant part of that film too. I think that film is interesting because it’s a window which lets us see inside characters’ minds, inside their inner worlds. In real life, we can’t read people’s minds, we don’t know what road they’ve travelled.

You’ve taken that idea even further here.
This film is even more psychological. Salvo and Lea are a separated couple who are still in love, they have a tumultuous relationship, they set off on a journey between two islands, Sicily and Sardinia, between the sea and the land; they clash, and they fall in love with one another again, they face up to their past. But they’re also embarking on a psychological journey. There are two storylines: the journey in the present day, which is linear, with ships, nocturnal streets, wild and remote scenery; and the inner journey, especially inside Salvo’s mind, which isn’t linear because the mind goes back and forth and goes down the road of the unconscious and of hallucination. It’s an uneven path, full of holes which the viewer needs to fill in. It’s a less realist film which brings to mind authors like Lynch and Tarkovsky, who had the courage to tell a fragmented story rather than serving it up on a platter.

It’s definitely one of those films which need to be seen at the cinema.
Films which tell fragmented stories place viewers in front of works which are less easy to follow, that’s why you need to watch it in a cinema, in order to immerse yourself in the journey, which is also conveyed via images and sound, which are harder to decipher on videos or platforms. Pasquale Catalano and I worked hard on the music, which is enveloping and occasionally discordant with its distorted sounds and noises reminiscent of other things. In a movie theatre, you can use sound to its full effect, as you can with images and their epic potential. There are no clear answers, in various scenes, reality blends with dream. It’s an experimental form of cinema which is of growing importance today, setting itself apart from the films screened by platforms; it’s an aesthetic experience, a film where you can also lose yourself if you want to. That’s why I waited for lockdown to be over and didn’t give in to the temptation of releasing the film on a platform, because we have to try to protect the cinema medium.

Despite the evolution of your filmography, you’ve maintained your link with powerful social themes.
It’s a love story but in the background there’s the journey embarked upon by Salvo who wants to return the body of this migrant, whom he was unable to save, to his wife. It speaks of the tragedy experienced by so many migrants who die in the Mediterranean, who can’t be properly mourned by their loved ones because they don’t often find their bodies. It’s a tragedy specific to our century.

What stage are you at with your new fiction project Anna?
It will be shot in 2022. It’s a co-production involving the French producer Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre (Mact Productions), a project acknowledged on a European level by both Media and Eurimages. We’ve got the support of the Sardinia region and we’re waiting for the final funding to come through. I’m now in the process of looking for the film’s protagonist - it’s a story about a strong woman. It will be more of a realist film which will see me return to a more linear narrative, but this will be an unconventional character too, who’s shady, full of defects and idiosyncrasies, but who still has quite a fight on her hands.

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(Translated from Italian)

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