Italian director Paulo Virzi is a guest and jury member of this year’s Kustendorf, as well as a winner of the Future Film Award, which has a special meaning for him, because, as he says, Emir Kusturica “has been like a young god to him since his student days.”
– I remember in the eighties, I was 20 years old and then films from the East were just coming to festivals. It was the year we came to know Emir’s work on “When Father Was Away on Business”. I immediately looked up “Do You Remember Dolly Bell?”. It was a surprising turning point for us – a famous director evokes memories.
In the run-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, dark films were coming from the area, and as he points out, Kusturic’s work was opposite – full of life, unusual humor, “comedy close to Italian.”
– That combination of tragedy and comedy, the ability and power to convey sad and painful themes in a humorous way made us consider him a young god, he was our inspiration, someone who encouraged us to create – Virzi reveals.
Paolo Virzi’s opus is mostly made up of comedies, and he agrees that there is generally no boundary between drama and comedy in life.
– I think comedy can be very effective and has the power to speak on the best topics. Comedy in Italian since the ’50s talked about social topics combined with social problems. That’s why I can’t share comedy and drama, you can’t even separate it in life. In each man you can find a special character for your movie. – says the Italian director.
The movie “Human Capital”, which the audience of Kustendorf could see yesterday, is the darkest of all achievements so far, and as the director testifies, it talks about the burning topics of today’s society.
– We all live in capitalism, where everything is a matter of status, of a bank account. What I wanted to say with the movie is what today is the conflict between social classes. I filmed it in 2008, when there was a major economic crisis. The explosion of this crisis within a rich society was an opportunity to recount that moment. We live in a world of globalization that has positive things. That’s our new reality, Virzi thinks.
Growing up in the workers’ settlement of Livorno, Tuscany, he witnessed the difficult life of his countrymen as well as the neighbors who fled Yugoslavia.
– Veselinovići, Popovići lived there … I played football with these children who came from these parts. We didn’t wonder then why they were there. Whether they were running away from Tito, I don’t know. We weren’t even interested. There were no differences or ghettoes. We were friends. The only conflict was football. But I remember the atmosphere and the scents that came from their mothers’ kitchens. When I watched Kusturica’s films, I felt like I knew all this and I knew him. I recognized those scents in his films. Children speak the same language and we need to learn that – the director concludes.
Collaboration with Hollywood Stars
In his career, Virzi has worked with such great stars as Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren in “The Leisure Seeker.”
– Donald is such a man that since he read the script he became that character, so since we first met he was always that character, I did not meet Donald but John Spencer. I met the other Donald completely at the premiere because he was already in the second character. Helen was completely different. She is a British actress from the theater who before the action talks about Italian food, wine and as soon as the “action” is heard and the clap drops in seconds she becomes a character from the movie – Paolo reveals.
By January 18, Virzi will be in Drvengrad tasked with declaring the best of 21 films to win a Gold, Silver and Bronze egg.
As he says, it will be difficult for him because he is not used to being in the role of the decision-maker, but that he will try to be gentle because it is about young creators who need support more than ever.