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VENICE 2023 Orizzonti

Alain Parroni • Director of An Endless Sunday

“I explored the confusion experienced by these kids through lighting, sound and atmospheres”


- VENICE 2023: The director chatted with us about the preliminary study he carried out on his own generation and his extraordinary visual approach in the film

Alain Parroni  • Director of An Endless Sunday

Alex, Brenda and Kevin are three eternally-connected youngsters who drift between the Roman coast where they live and the city centre. Alain Parroni, the director of An Endless Sunday [+see also:
film review
interview: Alain Parroni
film profile
, which was presented in competition in the 80th Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti section, spoke to us about the preliminary study he carries out on the generation he himself belongs to, his extraordinary visual approach and Wim Wenders’ contribution as co-producer.

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Cineuropa: In your director’s notes you write “My generation is all about language”. How did you study that language when preparing the film?
Alain Parroni:
As a young director I ask myself why I’m using film as a medium. There are other options for telling stories: podcasts, TV series… I’m interested in the cinema experience, the relationship between images and sound within the auditorium. To write the film I studied lots of youngsters and carried out interviews over six years or so, coming back to them two years later to understand how they’d changed. I realised that in the interviews I’d carried out, my point of view always dominated over theirs. When I “spied” on them on social media, I could see how they put themselves across when they were on their own and how authentic their point of view was: these days, if I want to tell you I’m eating I’ll send you a photo of the meal. The fact that there isn’t any real education in schools for this “grammar” make me wonder what will happen in the future. Today, there’s huge confusion among youngsters over the use of photos, which can become real weapons. I thought about these factors, as well as the emptiness that I was feeling at the time I started writing this film. From age 24 onwards, you don’t really know what to do with your life, or what tools you need to assert yourself or, more importantly, to find yourself and understand who you are.

In the film, you juxtapose the protagonists’ language and culture with those of Brenda’s grandma, which are full of ancient wisdom and magical-religious rites.
Religion, especially in the provinces, is one of the main sources of education for youngsters, after family and school. If you’re bad, you go to Hell… There’s this ongoing relationship with death which determines your behaviour. In the provinces, religion is heavily intertwined with superstition and that’s what the grandma represents. Parents, meanwhile, are totally absent from the story. The twenty to fifty age-bracket doesn’t really exist within this community’s reality; there’s this unconscious absence, these youngsters who are growing up don’t matter to them. Kids and elderly people are left to their own devices.

For most of the film, the three protagonists are in a car but they’re not really going anywhere.
It’s a road movie without fuel. Journeys are a recurrent theme in the film, but my protagonists sometimes only spend time in the car to enjoy the breeze, while giving the illusion that they’re going somewhere. The film is based on a handful of conflicting narrative ideas and tries to highlight the atmosphere enveloping the three kids, the light, the architectural structures surrounding them, in order to explore their emotions more than anything else, all through the film’s sound construction, which was also fundamental, and devised with the cinema experience in mind.

What were the effects of Wim Wenders’ involvement in your film’s co-production?
With a first work, it’s important to choose the right producer. I started to put the film together with Giorgio Gucci of Alcor, who I met at the Centro sperimentale di cinematografia. He received an initial green light from Fandango and wanted to assemble a production structure which would be both economically and artistically supportive. He was initially turned down by Wenders’ assistants – at the time he was shooting the documentary about Pope Francis (Pope Francis: A Man of his Word [+see also:
film review
film profile
). But then Wim realised that the film was about young people rather than religion, and he came on board.

What kind of movies interest and inspire you? There are lots of different references in the film.
I grew up in a time when lots of films were being downloaded, even black and white ones. In An Endless Sunday there are so many influences from classic films and Japanese movies, especially from the early noughties, when Japanese filmmakers started to buy into the digital culture and use cameras more gently, like Toshiaki Toyoda and Hideaki Anno, from whom I also stole composer Shirō Sagisu, who also worked with Anno, on Shin Godzilla, and who comes from the anime world. It might have seemed a crazy choice, but Sagisu helped us to realise how many monsters there were in this city we were focusing on.

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(Translated from Italian)

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