"The right to a vision"
- Dedicated journalist, European member of Parliament, president of Italia Cinema, Luciana Castellina is a prominent personality not only in Italy's political and cultural life but in Europe as well
Cineuropa: You are visible in various aspects of European cinema? Why are you so heavily involved?
Luciana Castellina: It’s very difficult being involved in European cinema because the space it’s allowed here in Europe is very small due to the influence of the big Hollywood companies who control not only the market but the tastes of the European audience. In Rome, there remain only a dozen or so theatres with an alternative programme, and they are too far away from where I live. Therefore I don’t go to the cinema. And my experience can be applied to all of us. That’s why we all have to battle in some small way to win back the right to control our vision, to have the right to represent ourselves.
Do you think that the public and professionals working in the European film industry could share this notion of European cinema?
I don’t think that there will be a European cinema, rather that there will be European Cinemas, in the plural form. The European countries are all different but in Greece as in Sweden, these cinemas share something in common: an introspective cinema, reflective, sensitive… with very few action scenes and it’s less commercial. But the cinema must diversity, like literature, where there is pulp fiction and the great tales of the literary pantheon. Things are getting a little better and recently there has been renewed interest in this notion of cinema by the general public. However, in general, each country watches its own films and those of its near neighbours. The only common denominator in European cinema is American movies. We have to safeguard what we have in common in Europe and find a way of circulating European films.
Many European countries are going through difficult times. Do you think governments should step in to help culture through its crisis?
National cultural politics is in crisis because there is a lot less money and in Europe cultural and cinema budgets are the first to be cut. And the Americans do the exact opposite! They understand that the cinema is a very important political weapon, in the battle for cultural and commercial domination. You’re wearing jeans because you’ve seen too many westerns. And the Americans realised that a long time ago. As soon as there is a budget problem in Europe, the first thing we do is restructure the cultural budgets. In Italy the situation is nothing short of catastrophic. Europe is more sensitive to these problems than individual member countries. Initiatives that help cinema theatres are very effective. Financial aid, the backing of individual and collective initiatives helps create a common heritage of information and knowledge, all of that is very important. The world of media and publicity is dominated by the American industry, and people begin to believe that it’s the only form of cinema that exists and they are astonished to they discover that there is an alternative.
Do you think that the cinema, that Picture and Sound is the battleground for the 21st century?
It’s a battle for the survival of culture, cultures, a word I also use in its plural form. There’s a danger in the 21st century that cultures as they are now will be wiped out because they become nothing more than merchandise and a culture is imposed on us with the notion that the world can be reduced to a single vision.
What did you think of the films you saw at Viareggio?
I saw an Italian film Soto il sole nero which I really liked, a first film by a young filmmaker, Enrico Verra, about a neighbourhood in Turin inhabited mainly by black people. It’s a very interesting film which manages to give an insight into a culture which is neither of the original country nor of the country of adoption, a new form of European culture. It’s an amusing film and very energetic. A sneak preview will be showing in the neighbourhood, followed by a big party with a competition between two DJs, one black, one white, the aim is to see who gets the dance floor jumping the most. It’s going to last ‘till dawn, ‘till they drop (laughs)! I really hope the film gets circulated.
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