Jasmine Trinca • Actress, director of Being My Mom
“This film is an attempt to turn pain and absence into something creative”
- Actress Jasmine Trinca makes the move to film direction with her short work Being My Mom, a metaphorical meandering through the lives of two women, a mother and a daughter
Jasmine Trinca has chosen to step behind the camera by way of the short film Being My Mom, a work presented in the Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti line-up back in September. Starring Alba Rohrwacher and Maayane Conti, the film is a metaphorical meandering through the lives of two women, a mother and a daughter, in a deserted and sun-drenched version of Rome. Distributed worldwide by True Colours, the short will make its way to the Warsaw Film Festival over the next few days. We chatted with the actress-turned-director about her work.
Cineuropa: The autobiographical nature of this film, which seems very sincere, is made explicit right from the title. How did it all come about?
Jasmine Trinca: It was part of my own story and that’s where it came from, in a certain sense. The decision to elaborate these things, to attempt to turn pain and absence into something creative, was the product of my own particular upbringing and the personal, analytical journey I’d embarked upon, which had also placed me at a certain distance, time-wise, from my loss. But I wouldn’t have been able to draw out this short without the help of Francesca Manieri, who wrote it with me and gave a dialogue-free form to my experiences - things that had happened, places I’d visited - turning them into a story full of meaning. I really liked the idea of making peace with that pain and looking at it in a more detached fashion. When we’re struck by a great loss, a kind of protagonism envelops us, in spite of ourselves. Seeing that pain as just one of many things that happen in the world really helped me. I decided to compose fixed shots of this world, within which this shared life of two would unfold, as if it were inscribed within a far broader tale whose reaches stretch far beyond the human world, encompassing nature, the sun, the flow of water, the vestiges of time.
You used your city, Rome, in order to inscribe this world within a specific topography, which I imagine is made up of “your” places.
Yes, it’s my city, but not its more recognisable parts, rather those places that are close to my heart, where I grew up, the park I went to as a child… There’s the Aventine, the Monte dei Cocci… I’m a failed archaeologist, I’m attracted to traces of ancient civilizations.
Was Alba Rohrwacher a natural choice for you, in the role of the sweet mother, a girl who lives out of a suitcase, both clown-like and melancholy?
To begin with, as the title suggests, the film was supposed to be some sort of performance in which I, myself, would play my mother and try to place myself in her shoes. It would play on a double paradox: a daughter thinks she’s her own mother and at the same time, I was the one playing my mother, in a reversal of roles. The initial idea was too much for me: acting out my own experiences while directing my first film. I wanted to look rather than be looked at. Alba isn’t just a friend, she’s also an actress whom I have a lot of respect for and who can connect with the material at hand in infinite ways. She can be comic, clown-like, but also sorrowful and profound, which is hard to find. She’s like Monica Vitti. She’s an actress who can surprise and disarm.
As you stepped behind the camera, did you think back to your experiences with the directors you’ve worked with as an actress?
Not in the way I directed. I didn’t arrive on set with a style in mind. That’s why it was so powerful. On every day of the three-day film shoot there were such high levels of enthusiasm and solidarity within the group. As an actress, I knew what language to speak with Alba and with little Maayane Conti.
The crew was almost exclusively female…
My aim wasn’t to exclude men but to include women. The producer Olivia Musini is my best friend. I have so many friends in the various sectors of the industry who are struggling to find work at the minute, so it was nice to make this choice.
In your opinion, are there universal elements within this film which allow it to cross borders?
I hope so, if only because we’ve attempted an emotive and visual form of communication which isn’t conveyed through language. It seemed the right kind of approach for telling this story, with the simplicity of the silent film narration style and the type of emotion that Buster Keaton can bring. Olivia and I approached this project with a certain naivety, even though I knew I could draw attention to what I was doing if I wanted to. It was lovely being in Venice, and if it had been possible for us to travel over the past few months, the short would have been invited to various other events.
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