Special Interview with Director Mimmo Calopresti at Grand Opening of Los Angeles-Italia Film Festival

LA-Italia Film, Fashion & Art Festival

We enter the VIP lounge and start a fight for the food. The buffet is overcrowded, as it’s already 10pm. Hands grabbing us from every side like uncontrollable tentacles, hard to keep away, so I decide to hit the bar and get some wine, leaving Shlomi and Odelia to the food mission.

After drinking some wine and getting some food, we start looking around. Small groups of Italians spread here and there, with their unmistakable natural pop-star attitude, which make them, by definition, charming. A little loud, happy and totally unaware of American customs, they smoke more or less everywhere. Spontaneously charming I would say.

Our goal is to interview Mario Monicelli, that would be Shlomi’s dream-come true, one of the classic masters of Italian cinema. Unfortunately he’s secluded on a corner, between a protective assistant and a giant bodyguard. Although the informal environment would allow us to approach him pretty easily, after looking his sweet old look, I don’t feel like disturbing him, clearly immersed in a contemplative personal silence, out of the crowd.

We look around. Tony Renis, no. He really is not part of our plans. Franco Nero, famous Italian actor, well-known for his spaghetti western movies. Father of Carlo Gabriel Nero, the director of the last movie of tonight with Vanessa Redgrave (his mother), The Fever.
No, even him, with all our respect, does not meet our target.

Mimmo CaloprestiSuddenly I find myself next to Mimmo Calopresti, and this is almost like a coincidence. Why we didn’t think of him before? His early screening tonight – Volevo Solo Vivere (I Only Wanted to Live) is a documentary showcasing interviews with Italian holocaust survivors that were deported to Auschwitz.

Mimmo has an open smile, on a very Italian good-looking face. Italiano del sud, which makes him even more distinctive, more Mediterranean. He doesn’t speak English, or he doesn’t want to. So we decide to talk only in Italian, easier for me, more challenging for Shlomi.

He is an open person, towards the people. Respectful. His eyes move around quickly, however there is something that makes me notice his deep attention to everything, to any ordinary thing. Maybe it’s his bloodhound nose. It’s fun and interesting having Mimmo’s attention and kindness, in a quieter corner.

We ask Mimmo some questions about the movie we just saw. The following details what we got from Mimmo’s interview at the the bar and from a short Q&A on stage after the screening.

QIt’s a strong theme, why did you choose it?
A – Because since I studied this at school, I have been always interested in understanding what happened. However, the question that never left me was WHY this happened. I have tried to find an answer, even through this work, but I didn’t. I didn’t find any answer to this question. The only thing, important thing, is that from all of this we have to learn to prevent anything like this, from happening again. We must not forget.

QHow did you choose the interviews, based on what?
A – I chose those that I felt to be the most emotional to me. Those that touched me the most.

QHave you ever been to Israel?
A– Yes I did. I have also been to Auschwitz. I went with Walter Veltroni (the mayor of Rome), who every year takes students there from different schools. Once I went with them, it was a very strong experience.

QWhy a documentary?
A – To be precise, I actually started my career as a documentary director. I have done other documentaries in fact. I have always been interested in social topics.

QAnd what about your next work?
A– My next work is a fiction; we have just finished shooting it. It’s called L’Abbuffata – The Pigout.

Not knowing his previous works, our questions must end. We thank Mimmo and let him go to his friends. While we promise ourselves to watch his movies. And of course, review them!

More information about the work of Mimmo Calopresti from Repubblica
Mimmo Calopresti was born in Calabria, the region on the point of the boot. He lived in Torino for many years and here is where he started his job. He makes his first documentary A proposito di sbavature in 1985, followed by Alla Fiat era cosi’ (1990), a series of interviews to some ex blue-collar working in Fiat during 1969 when the social and political revolutionary movement wrapped Italy. Then, his first fiction interpreted by Nanni Moretti, La Seconda Volta– The Second Time in 1995. Set up in the tidy Torino, Mimmo Calopresti tells us with a great courage of words the terrorism of those times. It is a success recognized inside and outside the country. With La Parola Amore Esiste– The Word Love Exists (1998) he goes to Rome to set up the story of a cello teacher (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) and a weird beautiful girl (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). The confirmation of his original style makes this work remarkable in several international festivals. In Preferisco il rumore del mare – I prefer the noise of the sea (2000) he is also actor, next to main character interpreted by Silvio Orlando. La felicita’ non costa niente– Happyness doesn’t cost anything, is from 2002. Mimmo Calopresti, tells about people who attempt to live with their personal contradictions, conscious of the urgency of making a choice and of its probable consequent mistakes.

By Laura Bianconcini

A Native Italian from Rome who is master disseminator of Italian culture through travel.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *