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BLACK NIGHTS 2023 First Feature Competition

Grazia Tricarico • Director of Body Odyssey

"We wanted to create the voice of the body"


- The Italian director talked to us about what bodies are able to tell us, as well as her experience with the bodybuilding world and her artistic approach to it

Grazia Tricarico • Director of Body Odyssey

The First Feature Competition of this year's Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival hosted the premiere of the film Body Odyssey [+see also:
film review
interview: Grazia Tricarico
film profile
by Italian filmmaker Grazia Tricarico. The film focuses on a female bodybuilder and her changing relationship with her body. We met the director, who talked with us about her experience with the bodybuilding world and her artistic approach to it. 

Cineuropa: What is your link with the world of bodybuilding? 
Grazia Tricarico: I have been interested in it for a while now. I already made a short film related to it. What fascinates me in the first place is the relationship we have with our bodies. Bodybuilding is, for me, a tool to talk about something that exists at different levels in all human beings. We all work on transforming our bodies, and for bodybuilders, it's true in a very intense way. For them, it's not only a physical but also a mental issue. I met female bodybuilders and was amazed at their willpower. I was interested in talking about the concept of beauty in this context as well. How does the world look at them? What does femininity mean here?

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Was it difficult to enter this world?
I found my main character on the web in a forum, and I approached her with a fake account. Then we met and quickly established a very great connection to each other. We have known each other for ten years. The bodybuilder world is a really welcoming one. They embraced me, and I found friends for life. For sure, they live in a bubble because their lives are really hard. They don't have time to take care of other things outside their body. They don't have a lot of friends because they are in the gym all day. When they have free time, they have to rest. It's continuous communication with their body. It's a search for perfection.

Sexuality is one of the big topics you approach. How did you work with your non-professional actress to represent it?
Sexuality is an expression of the body, and Jacqueline, who plays Mona, works on her body. This means that it wasn't hard to work with her on the body. Since we knew each other so well by then, we knew how to communicate. We didn't work on the technique, but on the human part, on the psychological part. This goes in both directions. I work with her, but she works with me and inspires me emotionally. And for sure, we also had professional actors around her who worked with her a lot. Jacqueline put a lot of herself into the role. Even though the story is totally fiction, the dialogue with the body is very real.

She is from Switzerland, right?
Yeah, she is Swiss from Zurich, and we met the first time in Rome for the short movie I did at school. Part of this film was shot in Italy, and another part was shot in Zurich.

Why did you decide it would be in English?
We wanted to create an abstract world. A world that you can't recognise geographically. We reconstructed a community with different ethnicities and different accents, for example, to create a kind of microcosm, a kind of aquarium of bodies. And the English language—it's somehow an artificial language in it. It's a first step in the decontextualisation of the movie.

You created your own mythology. What inspired you?
The look of the body of a bodybuilder recalls the Hellenic world. From there comes our idea of beauty. In her world, Mona is not a freak. But she's beauty; she's perfection; she's a kind of goddess. What is related to sexuality is that everybody wants Mona. She's the object of desire. It's around this time that we developed the mythological world. Moreover, the idea of transformation is a metaphor we find in mythology as well.

Can you tell me more about the sound design?
Together with my composer, we wanted to recreate the sounds that exist inside the body. We wanted to create the voice of the body. In the last part, when the delirium starts, the body becomes stronger than her. We tried to then elaborate on the sound for it and these laments, this moan from the interior of the body. We tried to reconstruct the landscape of the body. We imagined a volcanic territory that erupts.

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