Il resto con i miei occhi
Claudia Catani, Bruno Rochette, Alessandro Vantini, Céline Liger, Nicola Garofalo, Maria Cristina Blu, Diego Bottiglieri, Giulia Innocenti, Alberto Tordi, Eleonora Siro, Sébastien Bidault, Aurélia Beraldo, Ludovica Sistopaoli, Isabelle Noérie, Gwendal Audrain, Desireé Olmi, Giulia Morgani, Marine Galstyan, Sargis Galstyan
A Film Productions, Arturo & Mario Production, with the support of I.M.A.I.E.
DCP - colour & b/w
Claudia Cattelan, an Italian video-‐artist, is preparing a film for the cinema, a rather unusual project that blends real life and fiction. As any director would, she meets and auditions different actors, but does not seem very satisfied. She then travels to Rotterdam, where her film is set, to suss out the locations. Here she meets a French actor and offers him the lead role. Although he is not very famous, Serge Coran is a serious professional who after years of playing the houses still hasn't had the opportunity to star in a lead cinema role. He has travelled all the way to Rotterdam precisely for this reason, but finds the meeting place and the audition he is given rather unusual. In a hotel he is shown some videos, contemporary artworks created by Claudia Cattelan, and starts reading the script. Something disturbs him deep down, but he is not sure what it is. Serge takes some time to think it over and informs his agent of the offer. The same day, Serge and Claudia spend the evening together and end up in each other's arms – an unexpected night of love, two lonely hearts that meet, or possibly just a fated encounter. Serge Coran leaves the hotel at dawn and returns to Paris and to the set of a film in which he plays the part of the French poet Boris Vian. After a gentle awakening, Claudia returns to Rome, to meet other actors. A few days later, between one audition and the next, Claudia receives a phone call from Serge Coran: it brings good news, because Serge has accepted the role. Claudia is happy but also a little worried, because of what happened between them in Rotterdam. Serge Coran celebrates something – possibly his appointment as the artistic director of a theatre – together with his wife, his daughter and some friends. Meanwhile, Claudia travels back to her home, near Padua. Waiting for her there are two young girls and a babysitter. We thus learn that Claudia is not just a director but also a mother and a separated woman. The morning after her return home, she receives the shocking news that Serge has taken his own life. Deeply grieved, she decides to interrupt the film project and set off for Paris. She wants to understand what happened. She spends a hellish night in a shabby hotel in Belleville, sleeps in and misses the funeral in the morning. In the afternoon she meets a colleague of Serge's who invites her to spend the evening with their company. Without ever planning to do so, Claudia ends up visiting Serge's wife and daughter in their home, joining them at a kind of commemorative dinner for a small intimate circle. Claudia finds the whole situation very embarrassing, but is eager to discover the reasons which may have driven Serge to such an extreme measure. Claudia is gripped by a strange feeling: she believes that her script may have triggered something in Serge's mind. None of the diners take this hypothesis seriously: everyone describes Serge as a person who was certainly complex but not that fragile. Only his daughter Aurélia, who alone has read Claudia's script, seems to confirm this impression. Serge's wife Céline, intrigued by the encounter and conversation, asks her daughter if she could read the script. The following day the two women meet and Céline senses that there was something between Claudia and Serge. Despite this, the two women are brought together in their bereavement by a strong bond of female solidarity. Claudia returns to Rome, where her colleague Cristina informs her that the funding to start the filming has arrived. Claudia must take a decision: to continue or stop...
On 10 February 2015, in a final desperate gesture, the actor and director Manrico Gammarota took his own life. This tragic event came as a shock to his friends and colleagues. Despite the number of precedents – the list of artists who have committed suicide is all too long – when certain things occur, they always create utter dismay. Never would I have expected Manrico's life to come to such a violent end. A dozen years my senior, Manrico was a mature and composed man. To my eyes, he was one of the most balanced actors I had ever met. We were meant to do a film together – I had written the protagonist's role just for him. Manrico was highly esteemed in the business and had only recently been appointed artistic director of the Curci Theatre in Barletta, his hometown. Manrico had won a number of awards and worked with well-‐established directors, so I was flattered by his interest in my projects and happy to offer him the opportunity to star in a leading role that suited his profile. The protagonist of my story was an actor who was talented yet not very famous, a little like Manrico himself. The idea was to shoot a noir set in Rotterdam, as a metaphor for the fact that life is not so much what you have experienced as what you remember. A few days before his suicide, Manrico had phoned me to confirm his interest in starring as the protagonist. It was a rather odd phone call because I had already taken it for granted that the lead role would go to him, provided I had the resources required. It was an odd call because it followed a prolonged silence which I had not made much of, given Manrico's busy theatrical schedule. On the morning of February the 10th I sent Manrico a message to inform him that our application – we had applied for some funding from Nuovo I.M.A.I.E. to cover the actors' basic wages – was now running smoothly and that, despite some delays, we qualified for funding. I don't know whether Manrico ever read this message, but I have the terrible feeling that his tragic gesture also has something to do with our film. What I am referring to here is not the chronological coincidence – the message is still stored on my mobile – but rather the subject of the film which, if only symbolically, described the end of a man, of an actor who had fallen into the vicious circle of an obsession: thinking of his own life as though it were the script of a film featuring him as both actor and author. When the sad news reached me, I decided to interrupt the project. I informed the whole cast that I couldn't carry on with it. This was an emotional response, no doubt, but it was not dictated by pain alone. I was also very angry, but I couldn't understand why. I had put in months of hard work and everything I had achieved had been destroyed in a single blow, yet this was not the reason for my malaise. I felt as though Manrico's tragic gesture had made me responsible for something. It's easy to feel guilty when certain events happen and ask yourself why you didn't notice anything. But Manrico was only a colleague, not a friend I used to hang out with every day: why feel guilty over something I couldn't know of? Besides, my relationship with actors is largely limited to work matters: I don't frequent their milieu much and I don't delve into their private lives. Had I known about Manrico's depression – I mean his strong existential malaise: since I am not a psychiatrist, I cannot tell whether this was an actual disorder – I'm sure that I would never have offered the role to him. Talking to other colleagues, I came to learn about several facts I had previously ignored and discovered that already many years before Manrico had expressed the desire – if you may call it such – to end his life. In 2007 he had directed and starred in a short film ominously entitled “Facciamola finita” (“Let's Get It over with”), a black comedy that ends with the protagonist leaping into the void. It would have been easy for me to simply accept this evidence, find a new protagonist and continue on my path. Something within me, however, was resisting this idea and pushing me in a different direction. Not only was it far from easy to replace the protagonist, given that I had conceived the film with Manrico in mind for the leading role, but an inner voice was telling me to leave it at that and move on to something else. How could I carry on a film project starting from so much negative energy? Two months after the tragic event I was informed by Nuovo I.M.A.I.E. that my application had been successful and that I would receive funding for around 19,000 euros to pay the actors. I told the cast the news, adding that I wasn't sure what to do. I no longer felt like directing the film, but didn't want to penalise anyone. I was stuck in a quandary: whatever choice I made would carry significant consequences. After discussing the matter with all the people involved, I realised that I needed to rewrite the whole script by taking account of the subtle distance between reality and fiction, while at the same time trying to keep part of the original storyline. In an age such as ours, dominated by the language of persuasion, it seemed like an interesting prospect to follow my emotions and resolve this mourning, this death drive (Tanathos) by telling a short love story (Eros). “THE REST WITH MY EYES” reflects some real events but also represents a legitimate reaction to a loss, to a painful occurrence, which struck me as a more interesting subject to portray and describe than the original one. This change of direction came at a significant cost, in both personal and practical terms. After the filming was over, I separated from my wife, experiencing an even more painful loss. I have no expectations with regard to this film, other than my getting out all in one piece. But I do have a big wish: I would like the festival delegates who will receive a copy of the film to watch it attentively. There are various interpretative levels to this movie and it would be a real shame for the female protagonist's performance to go unnoticed. Prizes have already been awarded to the lead actors of plays and films I directed in the past and this has always made me very happy. I am glad to help actors in their career, but this case is somewhat different: the acting performance is really what makes the film. Given this premise, allow me to outline the content of the movie, which is the final chapter of a trilogy: three perfectly independent feature films linked by the guiding thread of feelings as that which lies at the root of human actions. Indeed, many of our actions and behaviours originate not from deep-‐rooted feelings but from other factors. It is interesting to note that human beings often act not so much on the basis of what they feel but of what is less inconvenient. Feelings are important for us all, but culture, education, the social context and other factors can easily overshadow them. Feeling, thinking and acting are the triangle that underlies human action: only madmen will thoughtlessly act upon a feeling, blindly following their impulses without. Even a sudden love can be mad gesture, although this does not make it wrong. Likewise, the choice to take one's own life can be either an irrepressible impulse or a carefully planned act. In the past I have been criticised – unjustly so, in my opinion – for making films that are somehow too personal. Actually, the three stories I have written, the three feature films I have directed and produced, are all works of fiction. None of the three episodes of the trilogy reproduces real life events. I have only ever described emotional scenarios: mine is always an attempt to achieve poetic inspiration. With considerable dedication, I have produced art films by simply anticipating the reality of our historical period, in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to draw a distinction between public and private since we live in an interconnected world that records ordinary people's lives as though they were part of the script of a film to be edited. I fully realise that contemporary events often lead directors to produce films on far more urgent and important matters: immigration waves, the economic difficulties faced by much of the world's population, war and terrorism – themes which fill our newspapers and which have already been explored by other directors. Personally, I have always been interested in describing the human condition in terms of perception. I have have always sought to investigate the sphere of one's inner life from a universal perspective, because – despite everything – life remains a journey made of encounters, accidents and