Sorrentino dealt with many answers of 'no'

Making “Il divo,” today’s competish pic about Italy’s shady seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti, acquitted in court of having Mafia ties, was not an easy task for helmer Paolo Sorrentino.

“I don’t want to play the victim, because, after all, the movie did get made,” Sorrentino told Variety. “But I got told ‘No’ so many times that it made me wonder; because at the same time the screenplay was being praised, and so were the film’s commercial prospects.”

The reason for the rubber wall: “In Italy there is a very strong web of relations spun over decades of a monolithical (political) power system. Even today Andreotti wields a lot of power. There are still big pockets of powerful people who are very grateful to him.”

That is why, unlike most other Italian productions, a TV presale did not materialize for “Il divo,” which is produced by Nicola Giuliano and Francesca Cima’s Indigo Film, Andrea Occhipinti’s Lucky Red, and Parco Film.

Sorrentino recounted that before making “Il divo” he met with Andreotti “because I was personally curious to see what he was like up close. For me he is an icon.”

“But I also met him because I thought it was only fair of me to tell him that I was going to make a movie about him. He told me that it was an odd idea and that it would be better to make it after his death. But he has been so important for Italy, that I just didn’t think that was an issue.”

Andreotti, 89, now a senator for life, is among the few allowed to see “Il divo” ahead of its Cannes preem. The usually unflappable pol angrily called it a “mascalzonata,” which is translatable as “the act of a scoundrel,” or, more simply, a “low blow.”

“I think if Andreotti sees it again he will realize that it’s a nuanced film, not a smear job,” Sorrentino said.

“I was surprised that he had an angry reaction because he had been so impassive and indifferent when faced with these huge accusations.”

In the late 1990s Andreotti was investigated in connection with the murder of journalist Mino Pecorelli, who had published allegations that he had Mafia ties. His Mafia ties were subsequently allegedly corroborated by onetime Cosa Nostra boss Tommaso Buscetta. In 2003 Andreotti was acquitted of all charges.

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