×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes: Q&A With Director Jonas Carpignano Whose ‘Mediterranea’ Has Buzz

Born in New York from an Italian father and an African-American mother, and partly raised in Rome, director Jonas Carpignano is at Cannes with Critics’ Week player “Mediterranea,” about two friends who make their way from Burkina Faso to Italy and experience culture shock and disappointment once they get there. The film was produced by Chris Columbus, and France’s Haut Et Court snapped it up before its official world premiere on May 19.

Q: Does the theme of this film come from something personal?

A: Yes. Growing up in Rome and having an African-American mother in Rome was clearly a very sensitive situation. Not that there was outward prejudice. That certainly didn’t exist. But you sort of become aware of being the kid with the black mom.

Q: As I understand it, your film stems from the short “A Chjana,” which won the Controcampo prize in Venice. How so?

A: I had gone to Gioia Tauro in Calabria thinking I would just make a short, and I ended up living there for five years. That’s because when I cast the short I met Koudous Seihon, who is both in “Chjana” and “Mediterranea,” and once I met him, heard his story, and got to know him, I felt that I had to make something longer. I had a sympathetic character and I could gain access to that world through him. I felt that was the right way to go.

Q: I know you worked on the script at the Sundance lab in the U.S. How did you mount the production?

A: Once the short was successful in Venice, the Sundance lab reached out to me and wanted to know if I had been developing the script, which I had. In fact I had just come back from a research trip in Africa re-tracing Koudous’ journey. Once I was accepted into the Sundance lab, they put it all together. They introduced me to WME and helped me find financing. Even though it’s an international production, it has an American structure. It’s pieced together with a whole bunch of small private investors, as opposed to going to government funding entities in Europe. This American independent cinema approach is very liberating.

Q: In terms of identity, do you consider yourself an Italian director?

A: It depends. Sometimes I feel like an Italian director. But I feel that when I make movies in Italy I bring a different perspective, a different methodology to it. A guerrilla filmmaking style like mine doesn’t really exist in Italy, so I feel lucky that I can bring my American experience into that.

More Film

  • 'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-and-Date China Release

    'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-and-Date China Release

    Marvel Studios’ hotly anticipated blockbuster “Captain Marvel” will hit Chinese theaters on the same day as it debuts in North America. The Brie Larson-starring picture will release on March 8, 2019, which is also International Women’s Day. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former fighter [...]

  • Peter Rabbit trailer

    Australia Box Office Recovers, Grows 3.8% in 2018

    Gross theatrical box office in Australia grew by 3.6% in 2018, to $890 million (A$1.25 billion). The score was propelled by a rebound in the performance of the top local films. Data from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia published Tuesday showed aggregate cinema revenues recovering after a dip in 2017. While the 2018 [...]

  • Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. James McAvoy reprised his role [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content