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Cannes: Nanni Moretti’s Faces His Own Mother’s Death in New Film

Cannes veteran Nanni Moretti is back on the Croisette with his semi-autobiographical drama “Mia Madre” (My Mother), considered a return to more personal filmmaking after his prophetic panicked-pontiff pic “We Have a Pope.” It’s the Italian auteur’s third collaboration with actress Margherita Buy, who in “Mother” plays his alter ego, a director contending with an ailing mom and other crises during a shoot.

What drew you to the subject?

I made this film because I wanted to depict, without being sadistic, an important passage in people’s lives: the death of a mother. It happened to me when I was in the editing phase of “We Have a Pope.”

What’s most autobiographical about it?

The part that reflects me the most are the words John Turturro says while he’s on the (movie’s fictitious) set: “I want to get out of here and go back to reality.” In this film I make fun of my neuroses as a film director. It’s much more exhausting to have it in for yourself than to rage against others.

This work seems a more mature Moretti. Have you reached a new point in your career?

I now strive for simplicity in my narrative. A simplicity that you reach through a process of writing and directing. Years ago there were recurring aspects in my characters, and situations from real life that ended up in my movies. I’m no longer obsessed with slowly building my characters that way. But I still like repeating scenes while I’m shooting. Doing take after take, over and over again, doesn’t take away freshness. Often that’s how you get it right.

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