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VENICE 2022 Orizzonti

Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel • Directors of Vera

“There is a contradiction that we always look for in our protagonists”


- VENICE 2022: With their new movie, the Austrian-Italian duo of filmmakers have created a semi-autobiographical vehicle for Italian actress Vera Gemma

Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel • Directors of Vera
(© La Biennale di Venezia - Foto ASAC/Giorgio Zucchiatti)

Most know her as the daughter of Italian actor Giuliano Gemma, as well as for her striking outfits and face lifts. But at second glance, there is more to Vera Gemma than just being the daughter of someone famous. Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel uncover these traits in their film Vera [+see also:
film review
interview: Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
film profile
, which has premiered in the Orizzonti section of the 79th Venice International Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: Were you fascinated by the person first and foremost, or are you actually guilty of making a film about someone who is the daughter of someone famous?
Tizza Covi: The first time we saw her, we sort of dismissed her as uninteresting because of her striking appearance. But then we were fascinated by what a nice, funny person she is. The issue that concerned us the most is how do you perceive some people? She is a woman who would otherwise be difficult to give a leading role to. That's actually what drove us to make this film.

Rainer Frimmel: The fact that she is Giuliano Gemma's daughter is pure chance. In that respect, we are guilty of the fact that we would have also made the film about her if she had not been Giuliano's daughter.

On one hand, the film is about ideals of beauty; on the other, it's a fresh look at what it means to be a baby of nepotism.
TC: How does a person come to be so concerned with beauty? She explains that being fat was worse than being a drug addict. That she and her sister were forced to have a nose job. That she always had to hear that it was a pity she wasn’t as good-looking as Giuliano Gemma.

RF: We are also interested in the contradiction. On one hand, she is not blameless for her image, because of the reality shows she takes part in. On the other hand, she is a fragile personality. That is a contradiction we always look for in our protagonists.

As is the case in reality TV, you never really know what is true here. Is that a comparison you would object to?
TC: We write for our protagonists. I know Vera and I listen to her interviews. When she tells me that her beauty standards are inspired by trans artists, then I think about how I can incorporate that into the film. How can I do justice to Daniel and his tattoos, or the grandma who grew up without running water? There is a concept at the beginning, but then the stories of the protagonists are inserted.

Vera never really seems bitter or sad, even though a lot of bad things have happened to her. Was she like that when you got to know her?
TC: We got to know her like that, but the starting point was her autobiography [the book Le bambine cattive diventano cieche]. There, she describes that she inherited a lot and how it went to the fake fiancés. But in the same breath, she says it's her own fault. She wanted to keep people around, and she showered them with money. That is what fascinates me about Vera, that she can pinpoint these mechanisms.

Nonetheless, the film has a positive outlook. Is it a love letter to the Italian film world and her father?
TC: Yes, absolutely; she adores her father. She would never have a bad word to say about him. I think it's a declaration of love to those people who are all so different.

RF: They all have their own burden to carry, their own problems.

TC: Spending time with them, looking behind the scenes and also giving something back to them with the film – that is actually our most beautiful calling.

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