Swide reveals the director’s thoughts behind the independent film “I giorni della vendemmia” (“The Days of Grape Harvest”)
Marco Righi is a young Italian director whose debut film has just been released, ‘I Giorni della Vendemmia’. Marco was born in San Polo d’Enza, Emilia Romagna, in 1983 and the story is set one year after his birth in a yet hot September in rural Emilia Romagna. The protagonist is teenager Elia who lives with his parents William and Maddalena, and his Grandmother. Their idyllic rustic life is unsettled when, in order to help with the grape harvest of the adjoining vineyards, the granddaughter of a neighbour arrives from the city of Emilia. Arrogant and libertine, Emilia will wreaks havoc to Elia’s life and to the once tranquil family. A movie about adolescence, growing up, and the different universes existing between countryside and the city, ‘I Giorni della Vendemmia’ (The Days of Grape Harvest) was filmed in just 14 days and is now distributed only in the region of Emilia Romagna. It has already won 7 awards, among them the special Prize of the Jury and special Prize Jury Junior Category at the 6° Rencontres du Cinéma Italien à Grenoble et en Isère and best cinematography 2011 at the 11° Milano International Film Awards.
Marco, can you tell me how this project started?
To be honest, I don’t even remember! My clearest memory goes back to summer 2006 in which, under my parents’ porch, I opened my laptop with a specific aim: to write a screenplay. It was June, maybe July, but I am sure the title was ‘I Giorni della Vendemmia’.
The movie is inspired by a writer from Correggio (Emilia), Pier Vittorio Tondelli: why this choice?
Whoever knows me, knows also that Tondelli is a central figure in my life: it’s because of where he comes from, his relationship with the province, the eternal escape from the boredom of his suburbs. but at the same time the urgent need to be mirrored (recognised) in this provincial identity, not for his works but as a person. It is not by chance that the movie starts with a quote from one of his works, “Altri Libertini”: “On my land, only who I am will help me to live”. (Sulla mia terra, semplicemente ciò che sono mi aiuterà a vivere.)
The protagonists, Elia (Marco D'Agostin) and Emilia (Lavinia Longhi), in a scene
The rural surroundings are basically part of the cast just like the other actors: what did you want to communicate by making the countryside a protagonist?
I needed it, it was a priority to me. The Emilia Region, my birthplace (“la bassa”, as we describe that area, the iconography of the Italian countryside), was a fundamental part of the screenplay, as a way to interpreting the characters’ personalities and their bequests in general.
Adolescence also plays an important part in the movie. What can you recall of yours?
I don’t remember much! I wasn’t either turbulent or docile. I have no bad memories of it, but when today I see adolescents, I am glad I am not there anymore.
In the movie you also talk about love and family: which role do they play in your life?
More than love in the movie I talk about infatuation, which is a totally different thing. In my life both love and family have a preponderant role. I wonder what life would be like without love, and family is very important, of course. But I am not referring to values or traditions, I am thinking more about a sincere, honest affection and a deep respect within the diversity of each one.
What was the most difficult movie scene to shoot?
Elia’s masturbation. It was not exactly difficult, but it was a scene that had to be dealt with extreme sensitivity, that’s why I wanted to create a tense atmosphere: it needed to be there in that moment. It was one of the few situations in which I thought tension was necessary in order for the scene to work.
Gian Marco Tavani plays Samuele, Elia's brother
Which soundtrack did you chose for “I giorni della Vendemmia” and why?
First, a leitmotiv with three original scores written by Roberto Rabitti, arranged with a piano and a double bass bow-played. Then an electronic piece by Murcof, a Mexican composer, and Jeremy Jay, an American contemporary singer-songwriter. I know, I know: they are completely different things, but each one is profoundly linked to each scene of the movie.
Marco D'Agostin (Elia)
What is the most difficult thing for a movie director?
Making a movie! I am joking…directing a set, understanding the psychology of each component of the cast and crew, from the producer to the actors. It is a little bit like being a psychologist, but with the difference of needing to take more immediate decisions.
Marco Righi, the director
What is the greatest thing about being a movie director?
Someone said it’s the best job ever (F. Truffaut).
What project would you next like to realise?
I really want to walk “hand in hand” with ‘I Giorni della Vendemmia’ because it has been really well received in movie festivals: meritocracy won – I think it’s honest to say - and I would like to bring the movie beyond the region, to the whole country so to be able to distribute it nationally.
What would you never give up of your artistic career?
My priorities, being able to follow the urgency of recounting a certain story.
The actors Lavinia Longhi and Marco D'Agostin
What does cinematography language have that any other media doesn’t have?
The language of cinematography is visual. Someone said that it does not recall anything: the cinema IS the reality (Pasolini).
If you could pick an international actor for one of your movies, who would it be?
It’s really hard to say. Any Oscar-winning American actor!
Your favourite Italian movie?
Another difficult question. It differs from time to time, influences, seasons of life. Right now I am wearing a beige coat because of a movie I have recently watched again: Zurlini, La Prima Notte di Quiete (1972).
What has been, what is it and what will Cinema Italiano be?
It has signified a lot in the past. It has been pre-figurative, sharp, visionary, brilliant, intellectual, of genre. What is it and what will it be? I hope it will live up to the past. To do so, we need more film schools in our country: this is a personal plea.
Interview by: Giuliano Federico and Elisa della Barba