LOCARNO – The stars are aligning for Abel Ferrara’s “Pasolini,” the U.S. director’s chronicle of the last day in the life of Italian Pier Paolo Pasolini, still one of the towering figures of latter-day European cinema.
Starring Willem Dafoe in what will be his fourth film with Ferrara after “New Rose Hotel, “Go Go Tales” and “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” “Pasolini” is based on a screenplay by Ferrara.
Ferrara aims to initiate principal photography on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 1, the eve of the 38th anniversary of Pasolini’s still-not-totally-clarified death.
Thierry Lounas at Paris-based Capricci, an independent production- distribution-sales-publishing house, lead produces. “Pasolini” is co-produced by Italy’s Urania Pics and Belgium’s Tarantula, backed by the Wallimage film fund. It will tap Belgian tax-shelter money.
“Pasolini” has tapped funding from Euro co-production fund Eurimages, French broadcaster Arte (a prebuy and co-production coin) and Gallic paybox Canal Plus. Peter Danner’s Paris-based Funny Balloons, which handled sales on “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” has acquired world sales rights to “Pasolini.”
French regions Aquitaine and Pays de Valois also support “Pasolini, which will shoot entirely in Rome. Post-production on “Pasolini” will be carried out in Belgium, Lounas said, who added that “Pasolini” is totally financed, apart from its Italian participation.
Ferrara fervently admires Pasolini. “Seeing ‘Salo’ was a great moment for me. Pasolini was not just a great film director, he was a philosopher, a poet, a journalist who wrote editorials, a communist but a Catholic who opposed birth control, a radical, a free-thinker on every level,” Ferrara said at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival, where he taught a master class for young filmmakers.
He added: “There are not a lot of people about whom you could say that their death changed the course of history, but Pasolini was one.”
Beyond Dafoe, who lives in Rome, is married to Italian filmmaker Giada Colagrande, and speaks fluent Italian, the rest of the cast will be Italian.
Pasolini was murdered on All Soul’s Day Nov. 2, 1975; he was run over by his own car on the beach of Ostia, near Rome. Giuseppe Pelosi, a 17-year-old delinquent, confessed to his murder, but retracted in 2005.
“Pasolini” does not, however, appear to be a procedural or an examination of Pasolini’s death. Rather, it will focus on the figure of the director himself and could include never-seen footage from “Salo,” “a funny scene” that Pasolini cut, Ferrara said.
Ferrara also aims to shoot a scene from the Detroit-set movie Pasolini was preparing on the life of St. Paul. “It’s a killer script. This guy could write scripts like nobody,“ Ferrara commented.
Although Pasolini was from Bologna, the Italian actors in the cast will be Romans.
“The event is Roman, very much Roman. Pasolini’s world was Roman,” Ferrara said.
“The film’s set in ’75, a very rough, rugged, exciting period to shoot,” he said. “Businessmen went to work wearing American baseball catchers’ shin guards for fear of kneecapping. The Red Brigades kidnapped and killed the former prime minister of Italy. … It’s a violent world.”