Director Portraits: Series Two




Directed by Cristiano Bortone. RICKY TOGNAZZI/


Directed by Ricky Tognazzi. Camera (color), Catinari; editor, Marone; music, Alessandro Molinari; sound, Grillo.



Directed by Giacomo Campiotti. Camera (color), Catinari; editor, Roberto Missiroli; music, Molinari; sound, Alessandra Tassan.



Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Camera (B&W), Marcello Montarsi; editor, Massimo Quaglia; sound, Marco Fiumara.



Directed by Francesca Archibugi. Camera (color), Montarsi; editor, Simona Paggi; music, A. Piazzola; sound, Grillo.



Directed by Antonietta De Lillo. Camera (color), Duccio Cimatti; editor, Giogio Franchini; music, Molinari; sound, Fabio Felici.



Directed by Daniele Luchetti. Camera (color), Montarsi; editor, Marone; music , Molinari; sound, Tassan.



Directed by Aurelio Grimaldi. Camera (color), Montarsi; editor, Marone; sound , Fiumara.

The second series of “Director Portraits,” which goes to air on Italo web Telepiu this fall, enlarges on the winning formula of its predecessor with eight interviews between Italy’s new generation of filmmakers and their forebears. Highlighted by very amusing conversations with B moviemakers Riccardo Freda and Joe D’Amato, the series is a natural for fest and TV slots.

Even more eclectic, and perhaps a little hipper in its approach than the earlier series, this second serving benefits greatly from the belated rediscovery of Italy’s genre filmmakers. Here it’s represented by Freda, whose work has ranged from sword-and-sandal epics to mythological tales to horror, and D’Amato, an industry outsider with 120 features to his name, who could be called Italy’s answer to Roger Corman and Ed Wood rolled into one.

Series producer Cristiano Bortone interviews D’Amato during the making of one of a series of hard-core ancient Roman romps the director is shooting, peppering the encounter with clips from his gladiator and monster pics. A filmmaker who has been through every Z-grade genre imaginable before turning, virtually full-time, to porn features, D’Amato surprises with his absolute love of making movies. His lack of credibility with producers forced him to invent pseudonyms. In one such case, he became Chang Lee Sun, shooting “Chinese Kamasutra” in the Philippines, which went on to make a tidy profit in Italo theaters.

By contrast, Freda displays an appealingly misanthropic nature, freely admitting that his attraction to filmmaking stemmed from the rewards of major cash, beautiful women and fast cars. Interviewed in a coffee bar by an amused, admiring Giuseppe Tornatore, Freda scorns the film-industry establishment, acknowledging that the most honest, intelligent producer he ever worked with was a boss of the Neapolitan Mafia.

Francesca Archibugi and Antonietta De Lillo keep themselves out of the spotlight in their interviews, respectively, with Marco Bellocchio and Peter Del Monte. Two of Italy’s more cerebral directors, they make drier, more academic subjects, at the same time revealing more of a personal side than most of their colleagues. Ermanno Olmi also opens up on an intimate level to former student Giacomo Campiotti, expounding on the poetics of film while images from his documentaries flash by.

A lighter touch is at work in Aurelio Grimaldi’s coercion of Francesco Maselli into a vaguely mischievous truth game. Also engagingly informal is Ricky Tognazzi following Gillo Pontecorvo around his home as the Venice fest director ponders the passing of real passion in today’s cineastes, or Alberto Lattuada (after eyeing the attractive sound recordist), confessing to Daniele Luchetti his regret that contemporary audiences have had the magic of the filmmaking process completely unveiled for them.

Shot in a variety of locations from living rooms and libraries to the seaside (Del Monte) and a medieval convent (Olmi), the interviews are visually snappy and, at 15 minutes each, just the right length. Independent Rome outfit Orisa Films, which conceived and produced the series, currently is planning to adapt the format to focus on American directors, with young indie filmmakers taking on Hollywood heavyweights.

Director Portraits: Series Two

  • Production: RITRATTI D'AUTORE: SECONDA SERIE (ITALIAN -- DOCU) A Telepiu presentation of an Orisa Films production. Produced by Cristiano Bortone. Series conceived by Valentina Pascarelli. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Cinema/Cinemas), Aug. 15, 1996. Running time: 120 MIN.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Arnaldo Catinari; editor, Patrizio Marone; sound, Marco Grillo.
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