“Being at the Venice Film Festival is like a rebirth”

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Published on : 11/09/2020 – 22:22

The Italian Emma Dante is one of the greatest directors in Europe and surprises as much as a director. Her new film The Macaluso Sisters is one of eight signed by women in the running for the Golden Lion which will be awarded on Saturday, September 12 at the Venice Film Festival.

RFI : It is a special year for cinema and culture. In France, the Cannes and Avignon festivals, which you know well, have been canceled. What does it mean for you to present here The Macaluso sisters and the fact that the Venice Film Festival takes place, with festival-goers from five continents, despite the pandemic ?

Emma Dante : I was also invited to the Festival d’Avignon with a new play. Unfortunately the festival was canceled which made me very sad like the cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival. Being here today at the Venice Film Festival is like a rebirth. I am very happy that we have the opportunity to pick ourselves up, again to hope and to create.

The story tells of the life of five sisters in a small apartment in Palermo, from their youth until their death. The different stages of their lives are shown through a few key events, but above all through their gestures and their attachment to small everyday objects. Behind, is it the will to recreate the world in your own way, to write a kind of Bible of ordinary life and little things? ?

I started with small details and then told a universal story: youth, adulthood, old age. Everything is interconnected, it is one life. Life is a single, uninterrupted flow. And you should never forget your youth, that you were once a child before you got old.

The five sisters are five individuals at the same time, five very strong personalities, at the same time they form a whole. Today, in the age of social networks and their promise to exchange and connect with people all over the world, is it still possible to be so united like the Macaluso sisters? ?

Yes, I think it is possible. It is a unique strength of the human being. So it must be possible. Love and interconnection are able to save our inner beings. We had the experience recently, with those terrible months during the pandemic where people had to keep a distance from each other for their safety. There was a very strong solidarity. Even here at the festival, we notice it, with the way we take care of each other.

The film was initially a play, presented at the Festival d’Avignon. More and more directors are introducing multimedia and cinema into their shows. For you, cinema and theater, are they still two very different things? ?

Yes, I think they’re two completely different things and two completely different places, but I’m still the same person, regardless of whether I’m doing a movie or a play. It’s just a matter of switching between two different modes of expression. There is a distant connection and sometimes the two modes meet, but the experience is totally different.

At the center of the story of Macaluso sisters, there is this day when life changes. Charleston Beach, where the fatal accident took place, is a place you frequented a lot in your youth. Have you yourself had a day that turned your life around? ?

I went to Charleston Beach a lot as a kid. I particularly liked swimming between the pillars of this bridge that we see in the film. When we wrote the screenplay, we looked for a magical place where the accident should take place. An unexpected place. So, I remembered this place from my youth.

“The Macaluso Sisters”, by Italian filmmaker and director Emma Dante, in the running for the Golden Lion at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

“The Macaluso Sisters”, by Italian filmmaker and director Emma Dante, in the running for the Golden Lion at the 2020 Venice Film Festival. © Venice 2020 Exhibition

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