Mollo’s “South” is anything but nothing to TorinoFilmLab Board
Besides, naturally, enthusiasm, pride and satisfaction, the significance of winning a Production Award at the TorinoFilmLab (TFL) is clear to director Fabio Mollo: “It is hope for survival”. His Il sud è niente (“The South is Nothing”), awarded €100,000 by the TFL Advisory Board and a Post-Production EP2C Award, is not an easy project, he says: “It’s a debut film, which alone is enough to make it problematic in Italy, on top of which it focuses on social issues, touching upon problems that are happening before everyone’s eyes”.
But the is not simply a political exposé. On paper, Mollo (whose short Giganti won the Turin Film Festival, among many honours) says his first feature depicts “a south that is more emotional than geographical”, through a journey that will lead Grazia, a masculine-looking 17-year-old, to better understand her family (including her brother who emigrated to Germany five years earlier and has never returned and her father’s obstinate silence) as well as herself and her own identity.
Set in a small Calabrian town on the Strait of Messina, the key to the film’s magical realism lies in the sea, “the womb from whose depths emerge the protagonist’s fantasies, fears, desires, memories, as well as feelings of guilt and hope”.
Written more quickly than usual thanks to a broken shoulder that kept him Mollo far from the sets of others – he has worked as assistant director to the likes of Gianni Zanasi and Lucio Pellegrini – the first draft of Il sud è niente changed over the course of the Lab. Says the director: “The choice to participate in the TorinoFilmLab was the best I could have made. The three sessions that precede the Meeting Event give you the opportunity to really hash out the screenplay with a tutor – ours was Gino Ventriglia – and to get feedback with foreign film professionals as well. In the current version, the fourth, I changed or sacrificed many things from the original, but kept the film’s emotions intact”.
Mollo is flanked in the project by Jean-Denis Le Dinahet, his old classmate at the National Film School in Rome, which the filmmaker calls “a preeminent place in Italy, which we have to fight to keep public,” [referring to the sweeping federal budget cuts to culture and education]. Instead of returning to France, Le Dinahet decided to produce in Italy and along with Vincenzo De Leo De Francesco and Sébastien Msika founded the company b24 Film. They will now look for co-production partners for Il sud è niente, above all in Germany.
Besides the Lab, Mollo is also at Turin with an episode in the omnibus Napoli 24, a mosaic of stories, faces and places of Naples. His three-minute segment is on the auditions of aspiring starlets of local TV.
(Translated from Italian)
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