Italian director Gabriele Salvatores, who won the foreign-language film Oscar for “Mediterraneo” in 1991 and more recently helmed teen superhero franchise “The Invisible Boy” is in Berlin where sales company RAI Com is showing buyers footage of his upcoming road movie “Volare” produced by Indiana Production in partnership with RAI Cinema. Pic stars Claudio Santamaria and Valeria Golino and is penned by Umberto Contarello (“The Great Beauty”).
Based on a widely translated bestseller by Italy’s Fulvio Ervas — which was inspired by a true story — “Volare” is about a boozing lounge singer (Santamaria) who accidentally intersects with his teen autistic son, whom he has never met before. He has an epiphany and decides to hit the road with him in an attempt to fight his son’s autism. They are chased by the boy’s mother (Golino) and her husband, played by Diego Abatantuono, who also starred in “Mediterraneo.”
Salvatores in Berlin spoke to Variety about making his return to the road movie genre.
“Mediterraneo” was part of a road-movie trilogy (preceded by “Turne,” and “Marrakesh Express”) that explored dreams and disappointments of your generation. What made return to this genre?
A road movie can be anything. But there is one thing they all have in common which is: what counts is not so much where the story goes, but how it gets there. For me “Volare” is a return to a type of cinema where, yes, plot is important but what’s more important are the dynamics between the characters. Alas, the years go by. So now my outlook on this genre is less frivolous and hopefully a bit more mature.
“Volare” sees you working again with screenwriter Umberto Contarello with whom you worked on “Marrakesh Express” who has since become Paolo Sorrentino’s regular scribe.
Yes. It’s great to be back together again. He has this totally wacky creativity which is perfect for a free-flowing narrative structure like a road movie. Contarello had the brilliant idea of having a father who doesn’t know anything about his child, so they discover each other during the journey. That is totally different from the book.
You are also back working with Diego Abatantuono, who played the gruff sergeant in “Mediterraneo”
It’s been a while since I’ve worked with Diego. In this film his character is fun and tender. He’s the man who has adopted the problem child. He’s like a good protective bear to whom something has been taken away. I’m really glad because it’s different from more caricature-type characters he’s been playing.
Then there are Santamaria and Golino, who are among Italy’s finest actors. But tell me about the kid, newcomer Giulio Pranno. How did you find him?
We needed a young actor who was like a blank page, who was not fully formed. So casting director Francesco Vedovati combed through the list of young actors who dropped out of the Centro Sperimentale film school. The ones who had done most of the acting classes but didn’t manage to graduate, in his case because he was just too outside the box. He’d had enough with acting! Then he landed this role. To prepare, he spent time with the real character that inspired the story and lived with kids with similar problems.