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BERLINALE 2024 Competition

Piero Messina • Director of Another End

“Together, Gael and Renate were like the wind coming in and blowing things around”


- BERLINALE 2024: The Italian director chatted with us about some of the stages involved in producing his second work, which is a dystopic sentimental drama

Piero Messina • Director of Another End
(© Dario Caruso/Cineuropa)

We met with Italian director Piero Messina. His second feature film, entitled Another End [+see also:
film review
interview: Piero Messina
film profile
and presented in competition at the 74th Berlinale, is toplined by Renate Reinsve and Gael García Bernal. Messina spoke to us about some of the phases involved in making the film, notably the writing and acting side of things.

Cineuropa: How was it with four pairs of hands writing the film and how did the concept of the film change over the years?
Piero Messina:
A lot and very organically. When I first read the story years ago, I was fascinated by the idea of transferring a dead person’s memory into a host body. There was no talk of grief counselling, instead there was this technology which promised eternal life... Straight away, I thought it would be brilliant to take that idea and set it in a love story, to use it within a tale which is first and foremost a melodrama about two people splitting up. First, I worked with the guys who’d written the story, Valentina Gaddi and Sebastiano Melloni, and then with my screenwriter Giacomo Bendotti. In the second instance, which lasted far longer, we re-transformed the film, turning it into what it is today. The question we always asked ourselves while writing was: what is it that you love when you love someone? Do you love their words? What you think you know about that person? Or is there a physical dimension to it too, their presence or the fact of being together?

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What kind of suggestions or instructions did you give Renate Reinsve to help her deliver a credible performance as a dead person inhabiting a “host” body and as her own character outside of that simulation?
I want to point out that I chose Renate and Gael as my actors because we were dealing with a screenplay with high science-fiction potential, but that wasn’t my focus. As a director, I decided that all my energy would go into fighting the genre film potential of the movie, making decisions which took me in the opposite direction. So I chose actors who, in my opinion, besides being extraordinary, were “asymmetrical”; in other words, who bring something unexpected and vital to the table, whilst also staying true to the text. Together, Gael and Renate were like the wind coming in and blowing things around. They’re always lively, emotionally connected. This “lively disorder” worked quite naturally against the fatal symmetry that this film carried within it – a cold film with a science-fiction context which had to stay in the background. I needed romantic actors whom people could empathise with.

The film has a varied soundtrack which fits well with the narrative mood. What kind of work did you carry out with composer Bruno Malanga?
When you take a rhythmic approach to a film, you often find yourself having musical ideas. It happens a lot that I shoot with the music that’s going to accompany the scene playing in the background. In terms of the soundtrack, Bruno was very free in his approach, while I wrote a few songs, including the one for the closing credits. It was a song born out of the scene where Renate dances.

There are a few emotionally climactic moments which are brought to a sudden end. Was this a choice made in the writing or the editing phase?
During editing. For example, when he starts to fall in love and we see him arguing with her and hugging her again, editor Paola Freddi tried to quite literally “rip” the scene. It was her idea, and I have to say that when I saw it, I felt a strong sense of disconnection and I realised that that was exactly what the character was experiencing.

The film references and echoes science-fiction so much. What were your own references?
All those things which move me as a viewer are the things that I turn to as a storyteller. [..] I can tell you how I worked: I didn’t give any indications to my collaborators on what type of sci-fi film we were making. I said: “I only know what we can have in this film and what we can’t have.” We gathered so much material together, and selecting things purely on an emotive basis resulted in a unique world, which is by no means coherent and which harks back to other films. Her by Spike Jonze, for example, is a film I loved, but referencing it wasn’t a conscious decision. The only one I had actively in mind was La Jetée by Chris Marker and the waking up scene, in particular.

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(Translated from Italian)

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