Paolo Taviani, of revered filmmaking duo the Taviani brothers, is back behind the camera — this time without his brother Vittorio, who died in 2018.
Taviani is shooting “Leonora Addio,” a surreal drama that takes its cue from a short story by great Italian playwright and author Luigi Pirandello. It’s a long-gestating project that Paolo says he and Vittorio had long intended to film together.
Italy’s Fandango Sales has taken international distribution for the film and will be kicking off world sales outside Italy during the Toronto International Film Festival’s online film market this month.
Co-produced by Donatella Palermo’s Stemal Entertainment and Rai Cinema with France’s Les Films d’Ici, “Leonora” started principal photography at the end of July at Cinecittà Studios and will also be shooting in Sicily. Production is expected to wrap in October and Taviani said he expects to complete the film by year’s end.
The Taviani brothers previously drew from Pirandello for their 1984 drama “Kaos.” This film draws from a Pirandello novella titled “Il Chiodo” “that inspired me by how surreal and grotesque it is,” Paolo Taviani said.
“But I’m not trying to be true to the Pirandello,” Taviani added, noting how the Taviani’s in the past have been criticized by some for “ruining Tolstoy,” when they directed an adaptation of the Russian novelist’s “Resurrection.”
The complex narrative interweaves a tale of three surreal Pirandello funerals with the story of the murder of a young Sicilian immigrant boy in Brooklyn, inspired by “Il Chiodo,” which was published shortly before Pirandello’s death.
“The conclusion of these two tales will remind the audience that life is theater and everything is spectacle,” Taviani said in his director’s statement.
The film’s cast comprises Fabrizio Ferracane, who recently won a David di Donatello award for his role in Marco Bellocchio’s “The Traitor,” prominent stage and screen actor Massimo Popolizio, and several child actors (pictured) who Taviani said “are amazing.”
Oscar-winning composer Nicola Piovani (“Life is Beautiful”) is composing the score.
Taviani said one component of the film involves archive materials tracing Italian history through the decades from the 1940s onwards, and also clips from Italian cinema classics celebrating the post-war golden era of Italian cinema.
“Vittorio and I considered this era just as important as the Renaissance,” he said, adding that “today’s youths don’t know the greatness of Italian cinema.”
Filmic materials will include desaturated clips from “Kaos.”
The Taviani brothers emerged in the 1970’s as a prominent filmmaking duo whose works blended neo-realism with more modern storytelling in works such as “Padre Padrone” which won the 1977 Cannes Palme d’Or, and World War II drama “The Night of the Shooting Stars” (1982).
More recently, they won the Berlin Golden Bear in 2012 with “Caesar Must Die,” which is about high-security inmates acting Shakespeare. They subsequently shot “Wondrous Boccaccio,” (2014), an adaptation of “The Decameron,” and “Una Questione Privata” in 2017, based on a novella by Italian author Beppe Fenoglio.