Thursday, 18 July 2019

Interview with filmmaker Valerio Giovannini

A Republica das Bruxas will screen at the Straight Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

*How did you get into making films?
I am a self taught painter, I draw since I was a child and soon I realized that one of the characteristics of my artworks was the movement. I am able to give (the illusion of) movement to “fixed” images and that is something that always fascinated me. 
In 2016 I participated to an exhibition about the writing of the Etruscans at MAEC the archaeological museum of the Etruscan city of Cortona, in Tuscany. I wanted to approach the theme of prophecy and the writing. So I thought of presenting my drawings along with a long written description intended to explain the concept behind them. But then I thought: what’s the use of it? Nobody (or just a few people) would eventually read it. So I decided to make a short film instead and displaying it along the artworks. That was my first short movie, Janela. A year later I made another one (Cor do ceu / Color of the sky) that I consider in fact an "half short film” in which I experimented with the chroma key technique. Then, in 2018 I decided to move to feature film with “A Republica das Bruxas”.

*What inspired you to make your movie?
The death of my grandmother, the end of a three years relationship and the discovery of a magnetic anomaly. I was born and raised in Impruneta, 15 Km from Florence, in Tuscany, Italy. Since I were a child I got fascinated by the Etruscan culture. This civilization created by migrants peoples was capable of creating a shared horizon of meaning in which the feminine and the masculine principles were balanced. I studied media science in Siena (another Etruscan city) and I got deeper in this philosophical and esthetic dimension in Ireland while I was studying at Comparative Aesthetics at the University College of Cork in 2012. Then in 2014 I moved to Lisbon the city of Fado (which literally means destiny) and where “magically” everything fitted together. In December 2017 few days before Christmas I was in my village, Impruneta (near Florence) and I went to visit a place traditionally called “The boulder of the witches” in the forest nearby. While I was there I climb the stone and I check my phone to see where the north was but to my surprise the compass gave me the exact opposite direction. And that made me think about the inversion of meanings and the witches so I started the movie. Then in Lisbon I discovered a book with a collection of Portuguese witchcraft trials in XVIII century. While I was browsing the book I encountered the story of Luisa De Lara, an alleged witch that was denounced by a woman who lived in the very road of my house. So I decide to use this story for the plot. The movie is also inspired by philosophical and esthetical ideas that I studied in Ireland. In the website of the film you can find some of

*How has your style evolved?
I learned a lot of things while making the film. First of all that I was able to make a movie. Then that my subconscious was helping me. I wanted to make a long film but I didn’t know how long. So in between the production of the movie I went to sleep thinking about the length of the film. Then I dreamt a figure without a face that asked me if I wanted to do a good movie, I replied yes, and she said that in order to be very good it had to be 1h and 47 minutes. When I woke up I felt happy because I knew the duration I had to fulfill. Then while I was doing the movie I realized that, as a matter of facts it was the movie that was doing itself through me. So my style changed completely accordingly. 
The becoming of the film was intertwined with the becoming of the style and vice versa. 

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film?
There are a lot of strange stories behind the film. The first that is coming to mind is at the very beginning of the movie. After shooting some scenes at the "Boulder of the witches” I went back to Lisbon. And I was thinking who I could ask to participate. Then I saw in my mind the face of a girl I knew six months before, I couldn’t remember her but I remembered we exchange contact through facebook. So I went to my facebook and I started to browse all the faces and there it was, Gabriella Chiarelli. I contacted her and when we meet at the atelier the first thing she said to me was that she was writing a text and she was able to complete it in the moment we meet. So I ask her to read it and it fitted completely the poetic of the movie. And that was before I even say a word about the reason I wanted to meet her. Then we started to work together and she became a real friend. After a few months I asked her if she knew some Afro descendant actress to play Luisa de Lara (the witch that inspired the movie). And she said that she knew one. Then one night I was walking in the streets and I saw a black girl. We exchange eyes contact so I stopped her and ask if she wanted to participate to the movie. She said yes and also that she was an actress. The day after I meet Gabriela and I said to her that there was no need of the girl she knew because I just meet one that fitted perfectly the role and her name was Lucilia. Then Gabriela asked me to see the telephone number and we discovered that was the same girl she was thinking. It was simply meant to be!
The film is full of this stories there is practically on for each “witch” involved. The events and the encounters of my life unfolded magically into the making of the film. At the beginning I was “hunting” witches to participate to the movie but in the end they were hunting me. For instance one day I was painting in my atelier and two “witches” appears they were from Lichtenstein! Very rare indeed!!! Another time me and the violinist, Marian Yanchyk we were recording part of the soundtrack “Devil’s thrill” by the XVIII century composer Giuseppe Tartini. While he was playing I was giving instructions: “Focus on the thrill! Focus on the thrill!”. And then, all of a sudden three beautiful “witches” appears in the atelier: one was from Brasil, another from Switzerland and the third on from Russia!  

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind?
My film broke all rules, no money just passion.

*What can we expect from your next film?
A political affirmationist manifesto of episodic harmonic randomness about several topics including myself, love, quantum physics, rubbish, art, politics and the masses. And of course a glimpse about the Etruscan civilization that I consider very useful to built a new vision of the world.