VENICE, Italy — U.S.-based Iranian auteur Amir Naderi — who on Monday received Venice’s Jaeger-Lecoultre Glory To The Filmmaker Award — says his new film “Monte,” shot in the Italian Alps, “is very much about pushing myself to the limit.”
And also about pushing his Italian crew.
“I told them in the beginning: ‘This will be like going to hell. But if you stick with me, I promise you, you will see heaven. And that heaven is cinema,’” he says.
Set in the year 1350 in a semi-abandoned village at the foothills of an Alpine peak, “Mountain” — which world-premiered at the fest out-of-competition Monday — is a drama about a man who attempts to bring sunlight to the village, where his family is barely able to survive because of the prevailing darkness.
It stars Italian actors Andrea Sartoretti, whose credits include TV series “Crime Novel” and “Mission: Impossible III,” and Claudia Potenza (“Basilicata Coast to Coast”).
Naderi says the cast and crew had to endure adverse weather conditions, bad food, and other tribulations, including communication impediments.
On the first day of shooting, the cast and crew asked him: “Do you speak Italian?” He replied: “I speak the language of cinema,” which meant that he “gave directions with hand gestures and a few words in English.”
“They went through a lot,” Naderi adds. “But when we wrapped, they told me it was worth it.”
“Mountain” follows Naderi’s Japan-set “Cut,” and “Vegas: Based on a True Story,” which was in competition on the Lido in 2008.
Naderi said plans are underway for a restoration of his 1985 Iran-set “The Runner,” which was among the first Iranian movies to get international notice after the revolution. But details of its restoration are being kept under wraps.
“Mountain” is co-produced by Italy’s Citrullo Intl., the filmmakers’ collective comprising Carlo Hintermann, Gerardo Panichi, Michele Petochi e Jerome Caltagirone, with Italy’s Zhivago Media and New York-based restoration and preservation company Cineric, with financing from RAI Cinema, the IDM Film Commission dell’Alto Adige, and the Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Fund.