I was born in Villa del Conte
(just outside Padua) on January 8th 1949. They
tell me I'm a typical Capricorn but I've never
been all that interested in astrology. I spent
my early years in the country and then my family
(my parents and three sisters) moved to Padua
where I lived until I was 25.
My high school years and those at university were
what you might call "the best years of my
life": lively, undisciplined, carefree and
creative. In fact I studied precious little (I
did eventually get a degree in Letters -with a
thesis on the Italian horror film - but twenty
years later!). To make up for this I spent a vast
amount of time on photography, filming, going
to the cinema and listening to music. Right from
the start I was determined to be a film director
and I became one. Even today I don't know what
other career I could have taken up. Since 1974
I've lived in Rome with Marisa Andalò,
my companion in school and now my companion in
life. Together with my wife I've written scripts
Bloodstained Shadow"), "Barcamenandoci"
and many other subjects for the cinema, and also
texts for documentaries, proposals for television
Many of these were accepted
and many more not. With Marisa I've also dreamed
of doing something really important, significant,
beautiful, useful (call it what you like!) for
the cinema and that dream is still there, a bit
like a faded photo but always ready to burst into
glorious colour. In 2004 we finished writing the
script for a film noir and I know that this is
the movie I want to make at this moment in time.
And I'm going to do it one way or the other. Now,
for those of you who want to find out some more
about me I thought I would "illuminate"
you (and me) and include in this blanket term
a list of memories, anecdotes and bits of this
and that, which will serve to help me in writing
my life story (so far) and, I hope, also you who
have the interest and the patience to read it.
|The first time I
The first time I
that I'd been born into the world to look at it
through the lens of a movie camera, was when I
was six. I was given a hand operated 35mm projector,
got hold of bits of discarded film and projected
them on my bedroom wall over and over again.
The first time I
had the desire to
tell stories with a movie camera was when I was
less than ten years old, and the projectionist
of our local cinema let me into his "magical
cabin" where I could watch the huge cinema
reels, the film passing through them and that
great arc of light
casting images on the screen. I felt like Alice
in Wonderland. He also let me see movies free.
The first time I
felt grown up was
when I forged someone's signature for the first
and last time in my life. I was 13 and at that
time would have done anything to possess a movie
camera and since nobody in my family was the least
bit interested in the movies, I took the initiative
and signed my mother's name on a hire purchase
form. I was still living in Padua at the time
and saw an advert in the local paper for a camera
that could be paid for by instalments from Rome.
So without another thought I ordered it. Just
like that. To this day, my mother, now 94, knows
nothing about it.
The first time I
made a short sound
movie with a script adapted from Tom Sawyer by
Mark Twain (starring my relatives and some friends
of my own age) was immediately after I became
the proud possessor of my "camera on the
never-never." I also made my first enemy
because in a sadistic attempt at cinematic realism
I emptied a pot of fresh paint all over the head
of one of the actors.
The first time I
realized I had done
something important for myself (and for others)
was when I made my first experimental film in
8mm at the age of 18. It was called "Dimensioni"
and lasted a full 80 minutes. It won a prize as
best first work at Montecatini , which in the
70's was virtually the only festival in Italy
for short films and therefore very important.
Mentor was tutor to Telemachus and Ulysses entrusted
his son to him during the war of Troy.
Niccolò Paganini was my
first mentor. This great violin virtuoso, so brilliant,
romantic and neurotic, played an important part
in my formation and pleasantly occupies a lot
of my time even now. I listen to his music, have
a huge collection of his cds and records and have
also read countless books and essays about him.
I liked his attention to detail and technique
and also his desire to experiment
married to a striking nineteenth century sensibility
and, in spite of fragile health, a particular
vision of life at once passionate, pessimistic
and full of mystery made me identify with him
for a long time, above all on account of his avid
curiosity as to the latent possibilities of the
instrument on which he was experimenting. For
him it was the violin, for me the movie camera.
And I have amply and aptly thanked him via two
kind of "video clips" I made on some
of his famous works: "Moto
perpetuo" and " Capricci."
Both very much ahead of their time and very visionary.
Then came Godard, Jancso,
Hitchcock, Sergio Leone, Spielberg
for a certain period the director Giuseppe
Ferrara. After seeing my experimental films,
he took a chance on me, even though I was still
very young, and let me work as cameraman on two
documentaries one of which, "La città
del malessere" won the Nastro d'Argento.
Then I was first assistant director on his movie
"Faccia di spia". He called me his pint-sized
Dreyer. As usual he was exaggerating but he believed
in me. He also taught me a lot but, as often happens
even with the best loved "maestri",
we lost touch in this ever more chaotic city of
|Peaks, or rather periods
of absolute intensity.
Peak moments of absolute happiness
or high drama
Like the time my second film,
"Alieno da," won first prize at the
Montecatini Film Festival and confirmed the fact
that this was the right road for me. I was just
Or the time when at the première of "Il
gatto dagli occhi di giada" ("Cat
with the Jade Eyes" or "Watch me when
I kill"), the Fiamma theatre in Rome
packed with paying customers, the soundtrack -
Verdi's " Dies irae " chosen specifically
to accompany the death of the old money-lender
- all but disappeared at the most dramatic moment.
A perforated ulcer indeed.
Or the joy of the moment in Milan when Maurizio
Porro introduced me to Lattuada informing him
that I was the director of "Solamente
Bloodstained Shadow"), a magnificent
thriller d'auteur. In those days, the term - "auteur"
- still sent shivers of pleasure up my spine.
And then there were the private "peaks"
almost always scaled with Marisa: listening to
music, playing and singing it, while sailing through
Greek waters between heavenly islands.
|Passages, or rather turning
points, significant changes
I changed considerably when I
realized that in my stubborn quest to be considered
an intellectual and committed " auteur "
I was not doing justice to myself. What I really
liked was telling a story in a particular way
( for example action and suspense ) and the stories
didn't have to be exclusively mine. I'm not really
cut out for comedy or realism, in fact Barcamenandoci
100 are my least favorite movies even
if the latter was something of a "myth"
for young tv viewers of the 80's. I have found
out, albeit somewhat late in the day, that my
real "forte" is the thriller, the mystery
film, the 'noir' science fiction. In this sense
tornado marks a step forward and a
return for me.
|Bird's eye view.
Looking down from on high, I
see my life either as an open sea dotted with
lighthouses, islands and archipelagoes and I'm
making my way through them, sometimes slowly in
a sailing boat, at other times with the short
sharp spurts of a motorboat; or as an immense
range of land marked by an endless railway line
on which a train is travelling. I'm the engine
driver but sometimes I switch to automatic pilot
and let myself be taken through cities I don't
want to visit and stop at deserted and boring
The islands are my five movies for the
cinema, the lighthouses are the films and
"shorts" I made as a youth, the archipelagoes
the documentaries and tv commercials ( I no longer
remember just how many); the slowness of the
sailboat is the lackadaisical way I refused
to be caught up in (or swept away by) the mundane
world of socialising and "getting to know
the right people." Consequently I gave in
to the 'comfort' and certainty of documentary
films rather than the uncertainty and uneasy compromise
of tv fiction. The spurts are those moments
when I realized I had to "do something "
if I wanted to return to the cinema screen. Today,
November 2004, being one of those moments, I have
"turned on the ignition" again and am
ready to go. The automatic pilot I have
actually used very little as nothing in my life
has come from other people and nobody has taken
me by the hand and made things easy for me. Every
film I've made has been an uphill battle. I'm
sure the next will be too.
|What I would like to have
Make films like "Ben Hur,"
"Once Upon A Time In America" or "Apocalypse
Now." As a child I devoured adventure films,
war films and westerns. Those are the kind of
movies I'd like to have made: highly spectacular
but intelligent action films. But even though
such films are financially out of the question
in Italy and therefore impossible to produce,
I still managed to find a way to realize my ambitions
and exercise my professional capabilities
in total autonomy. In fact
|What I did and what I do.
1973, while I was doing my military service in
the film center of the Ministry of Defense, I
made a long-short (50') called "Twenty Four
Months". This won first prize at the international
film festival of documentary films dealing with
the technical expertise of the armed forces (Mifed
'74). Since then I have been in the position to
initiate a steady collaboration with the Aeronautic
and Marine authorities and realize on a small
scale "great" spectacular films with
impressive means at my disposal. I have directed
and coordinated sequences with hundreds of men
and ships, helicopters, submersible, aircraft
and armoured tanks. I have flown on jets of every
type, spent hundreds of hours in helicopters and
been 300 metres deep in submersibles. A large
part of these films were conceived as actual action
films and had fictitious plots and were a far
cry from the usual documentary film. And all this
without being in Hollywood.
|What I'm going to do when
I "grow up"?
Return to the thriller, absolutely and categorically.
I feel my career is at
a turning point. Documentaries are all very
well and good; the same goes for advertising
but the cinema is something else and nothing
can take the place of the magic of a film
set or of a story unfolding on the "silver
screen." That's why I'm putting all
my energies into realizing my noir-thriller
which by hook or by crook I firmly intend
to do. Marisa and I have just finished
"IL TARLO DEL MALE" (loosely translated
The Worm of Evil).
It's a compelling story of victims and persecutors,
of parents and children, of indifference
and incommunicability. It's a film that
inspires and urges me to get back on the
bandwagon. I know it's not going to be easy
given the current climate and the perpetual
crisis of our cinema here in Italy but I
intend to "lean" on an independent
producer and film it digitally.
my aim is not to make a mint of money but
solely and exclusively to make my COMEBACK,
one way or another, to the cinema. Do you
agree? Thank you for staying with me so far.