Prior to the pandemic, British filmmaker Peter Chelsom (“Serendipity,” “Shall We Dance?,” “Hannah Montana”) shot an Italian-language movie titled “Security” based on the novel of the same name by U.S. author Stephen Amidon. The film, set in the posh Tuscan seaside town of Forte Dei Marmi, wrapped just before lockdown. It stars Italian A-lister Marco D’Amore (“Gomorrah,” the TV series) as a cop looking into a web of sexual abuse cases. The entirely Italian cast also comprises Maya Sansa, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Valeria Bilello, Silvio Muccino and Tommaso Ragno. The cinematographer, Mauro Fiore (“Avatar”), is Italian-born. Chelsom spoke exclusively to Variety about “Security,” which is co-produced by Indiana Production and Vision Distribution and being sold as a market premiere at the Cannes virtual Marché du Film by Vision Distribution’s new world sales arm.
This is the second novel by Amidon set in the U.S. and transposed to Italy, after “Human Capital,” which was directed by Paolo Virzì. Other similarities?
It’s a kind of companion piece to “Human Capital” in that it’s both the same novelist and the same producers. Similarly, it starts with a crime that takes the duration of the film to solve. I would say that while “Human Capital” asks the question “What is the price of a human life?” “Security” asks: “What is the price we pay for security in an evert-threatened world?”
Tell me more about the story
It starts with a local teenage girl who has been sexually assaulted wandering the streets. This crops up on CCTV, and it takes the duration of the film to solve that crime. The central character is of course massively conflicted because his wife is running for mayor, being funded by the wealthiest person in Forte Dei Marmi. Also his daughter is at the same school as the girl who was sexually assaulted.
Was it tough transposing a story set in Massachusetts to Forte Dei Marmi?
I think Steven (Amidon) must be genetically Italian. Kind of like me. I want to be Italian … though I’m not quite there. It’s amazing how his work in “Human Capital” suited the Italian setting, and the same goes for “Security.”
You and Amidon both have a close connection to Italy.
I’ve been trying to make a film in Italy for about 15 years … I have a house in Lunigiana, Tuscany, quite close to Forte Dei Marmi … I’ve been going to Italy all my life.
In Amidon’s novel the sexual assault is perpetrated by a rich New Yorker. Does that remind you of anyone?
What I’m pleased about with the film is there is an attempt within the (Forte Dei Marmi) community to diminish the crime, and yet a girl’s life has been destroyed. But I think justice is definitively served. What’s timely is how conflicted everybody suddenly becomes because of their contact and associations with the perpetrator of the crime. With wealthy New Yorkers … you are talking about the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, of course. But what’s interesting is how people either run for the hills, if they can, or they go very, very silent because of their conflict. In that sense this story has many layers.
Any other timely elements?
One of the points that the film seems to make is how sad it is that communities seem to become united only in times of tragedy. In other words, we are living in a world in which you don’t know your neighbor until an earthquake, or until a flood, or until the coronavirus — and in that case you are supposed to keep away from your neighbor anyway — or until a crime. That’s what’s happening everywhere. The film does feel very timely in that sense