Luigi Sardiello • Director
Luigi Sardiello’s The Italian Pastry Chef opened the 14th edition of the European film festival in Lecce. The film, starring Antonio Catania, was given the Cinecibo award.
Cineuropa: How did the idea of The Italian Pastry Chef [+see also:
interview: Luigi Sardiello
film profile] come about?
Luigi Sardiello: The idea was to tell the story of a person who is watching life itself, an ingénue who has never had to deal with the outside world but is suddenly thrown into it. He must deal with its seductive elements, as well as its dark sides. I needed to come up with a metaphorical profession and that of a pastry maker, with its white props, its saturated and decisive colours, the precision of the round tarts, seemed to represent the character’s candour well.
Who is Achille and why did he decide to launch himself into this adventure?
He is a man who makes no decisions. He is a pastry maker. His life only takes place within the confines of his pastry laboratory. He has no contact with the outside except for those required by his profession. He is therefore a man who has created a microcosm of tranquillity for himself. The truth is, every one of us has a secret side that so often we do not know about.
How did you decide to put Antonio Catania in the main role? How did you direct him?
He seemed perfect for such an ingenuous role. A little off-balance. The first reason is that he looked like the role, he looked candid. The second reason is that he is an actor I have always been in love with, it was my dream to work with him. There are actors where you need to give them security and direction. There are others where all you need to do is talk to them before filming about their intuition. Catania and Fantastichini are like this. I worked with them during the preparation phases of the film on the specifics of their characters, then when we were on set they were already in their characters’ shoes.
As for the style, which films inspired you and which were your references?
I wanted to do an Italian film noir that was out of the ordinary. My idea was to create atmosphere, which is the genre’s characteristic, but to tie it to other things. There are comedy incursions that may surprise those expecting a classic film. There are surreal, unexplained incursions. There is also the ambition of a little existential reflection. My references are Mario Monicelli, great Italian comedy, Vittorio De Sica. And then Hitchcock and Truffaut.
As a professor in technical writing at Rome’s university, what kind of advice do you give your students?
My advice is that all artistic activities, starting with writing, should not be anarchic. Students think that writing a film is absolute freedom. Whereas the artist’s work is to give fantasy exactitude, frame it into something, not necessarily defined by others, but perhaps by a style. A writer takes ideas and stuffs them into 120 pages of a story. Like a painter frames his ideas on a canvas.
You started your career with Pupi Avati. What did you learn from him?
The capacity of giving delicacy and light-heartedness to topics. Topics are never heavy, or light on their own, it depends on how they are delivered, and he has always had a light hand to tackle tough subject matters. This is what I hope to have done in my film.
What genre will your next film be?
In my next film, I would like to tell the story of sprightly old people, who despite their age are revealing themselves to be a great deal more vital to this country than the young. There will still be an element of comedy, my idea is to tell serious stories but through a different vest. Comedy is fundamental when you talk about melancholic, sad issues.