Italian auteur Mario Martone, who was recently in Cannes with “Nostalgia,” is set to direct a high-profile doc about the late Massimo Troisi, one of Italy’s most beloved comic actors who starred in the Oscar-winning film “Il Postino.”
Troisi, who played the simple postman who rides his bicycle on the sandy terrain of an Italian island to deliver mail to his sole client, the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, died tragically of congenital heart failure at age 41 in June 1994, the day after “Il Postino” finished shooting at Rome’s Cinecittà studios.
The film directed by Michael Radford, which also starred Maria Grazia Cucinotta and Philippe Noiret, became an arthouse sensation one year later when it opened in the U.S. distributed by Miramax.
“Il Postino” went on to win an Oscar in 1996 for best dramatic score, having earned five nominations, including for best film, as well as best director for Radford, and best actor and adapted screenplay for Troisi who became the first actor nominated posthumously for multiple Oscars, though he did not win.
Troisi had originated the film and was very passionate about getting “Il Postino” made. After reading the Chilean novel “Burning Patience,” the story of a postman’s gradual awakening to Neruda’s poetry, he had approached Radford about adapting the book into a movie.
Shortly after filming began, Troisi, whose heart was damaged as a child from rheumatic fever, had been told by doctors that he would need a heart transplant immediately. But he decided to continue shooting the picture. During filming, his health was so precarious that he could only manage to work for roughly an hour per day.
“Il Postino” was the 12th film for Troisi, who also directed five of the movies he starred in, including “Nothing Left to Do But Cry,” which he wrote, directed and starred in with Roberto Benigni in 1985.
The Troisi doc, titled “Laggiù Qualcuno Mi Ama” – which translates to “Someone Up There Loves Me” – will make use of previously unseen materials and feature testimonials from many colleagues and friends.
The screenplay is by Martone and Anna Pavignano, who was Troisi’s partner and co-wrote all of his films, including “Il Postino.”
Martone’s homage to Troisi is being produced by Italy’s Indiana Production in association with Vision Distribution and Medusa Film. The plan is for Vision and Medusa to jointly release the Troisi doc in Italian cinemas on Feb. 19, 2023, which would have been Troisi’s 70th birthday.
Vision Distribution International is handling international sales.
“A friendship was born with Massimo based on a great mutual esteem. I adored his films and we longed to work together,” Martone said in a statement.
Both Troisi and Martone are Neapolitans, though to be exact Troisi was born in the Naples suburb of San Giorgio a Cremano.
“The opportunity that I am being offered to make a documentary through which the audience can reconnect with him today on the big screen is therefore something very special for me,” Martone added. “I can go back to having a dialogue with him; listen to him, and bring him back to the spectators of yesterday and [introduce him] to those of today,” Martone added.
The prolific Martone, whose “Nostalgia” was well-received in Cannes earlier this year, is also know for Toni Servillo-starrrer “The King of Laughter,” “The Mayor of Rione Sanità,” and “Capri Revolution,” all of which launched from Venice.
Indiana co-CEO Fabrizio Donvito said the Troisi doc stems from his encounter with the popular actor and director’s regular producer Mauro Berardi, while Medusa chief Giampaolo Letta noted it will “make his popularity even more universal.”
Vision Distribution boss Massimiliano Orfei underlined that, in tandem with Indiana and Medusa, they will do their best to “ensure for this prestigious project the best [possible] distribution to celebrate one of the greatest artists that our country has ever had.”