Your movie Memphis won the first edition of the Biennale College programme (2012-2013): how would you describe this experience?
I was in their first class. I had a tremendous experience in making my second film with them, I owe it completely to them. It was an exciting process, the College helped shape the film, they sent me off to make the film I was hoping to make without hovering over me. They empowered me and made me able to make independent artistic choices. It is very rare that an organization would both found you and push you to make something out of mainstream. Eventually, the film got international distribution, it was in several festivals all over the world and it was played in many theatres in America. Other films are doing the same, if not better. I keep in touch with many of my former fellows of the College, we support each other. We are a network and we all owe it to the Biennale College progamme..
The Aurora, Colorado mass shooting of 2012 took place in a cinema theatre. How has this influenced you in making the movie?
is all about it. There has been gun violence in America since the
beginning and it hasn’t but gotten worse. The fact that prompted me to
make the film was that the violence happened in a cinema. And that’s
simply because cinema theatres are the places where people go to dream.
The director, the audience… everyone goes to the cinema to dream and
then, all of a sudden, it all turns into a nightmare. The space has been
corrupted, it is no longer a safe place to dream and as a filmmaker, it
broke my heart. The kind of film I was going to make, though, was not
one of violence, or an action movie. It is not about death as it is
about everyday life. The kind of cinema I want to make – observational,
ethereal, quiet – is the kind of response the subject needs. It needs
silence, it needs quiet. I tried to mirror these needs into the movie:
the movie depicts reality, the style of the movie is the answer I would
want to see in real life. I also wanted to add a voice to the
conversation that Gus Van Sant started with Elephant, all the while
developing my artistic style.
How do you portray the victims of the mass shooting?
victims are people who live every moment of their day not knowing that
something horrible is coming – just like we do. You walk through a
parking lot in America today and you hear a loud noise. Could be
nothing, could be anything. It all brings about paranoia right now in
America. Victims are going about their day, how does the audience relate
to those people, knowing that it is going to be their last day? I will
make the audience not only empathise, not only immerse, but merge with
the audience inside the story. That’s something cinema can do. You’re
watching the movie – you are in the movie. It makes people uncomfortable
and that’s the point.