Discovering identities

Nicola Maccanico on Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in New York

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Edoardo De Angelis’s The War Machine (Comandante), starring the commanding Pierfrancesco Favino, opened the 23rd edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in New York and the Venice Film Festival.
Edoardo De Angelis’s The War Machine (Comandante), starring the commanding Pierfrancesco Favino, opened the 23rd edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in New York and the Venice Film Festival. Photo: courtesy of Cinecittà

Edoardo De Angelis’s The War Machine (Comandante, starring Pierfrancesco Favino); Roberta Torre’s In the Mirror (Mi Fanno Male I Capelli with Alba Rohrwacher mirroring Monica Vitti); Piero Messina’s Another End (Gael García Bernal, Renate Reinsve, Bérénice Bejo); Stefano Sollima’s Adagio (Pierfrancesco Favino, Valerio Mastandrea, Adriano Giannini, Toni Servillo); Laura Luchetti’s The Beautiful Summer (La Bella Estate with Deva Cassel, Yile Yara Vianello, Nicolas Maupas); Nanni Moretti’s A Brighter Tomorrow (Il Sol Dell’Avvenire with Nanni, Margherita Buy, Silvio Orlando, Mathieu Amalric); Paola Cortellesi’s There’s Still Tomorrow (C’è Ancora Domani with Cortellesi as Delia, Valerio Mastandrea); Alain Parroni’s An Endless Sunday (Una Sterminata Domenica, Enrico Bassetti, Federica Valentini, Zackari Delmas); Ginevra Elkann’s I Told You So (Te l’Avevo Detto with Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Valeria Golino, Alba Rohrwacher, Riccardo Scamarcio, Danny Huston); Giorgio Diritti’s Lubo (Franz Rogowski); Enrico Maria Artale’s El Paraíso (Edoardo Pesce, Margarita Rosa de Francisco); Pietro Castellitto’s Enea (Castellitto with Chiara Noschese, Sergio Castellitto), and Tommaso Santambrogio’s Oceans Are the Real Continents (Gli Oceani Sono I Veri Continenti) were the films screened in the 23rd edition of Cinecittà and Film at Lincoln Center’s exceptional program, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in New York.

Mathieu Amalric with Nanni Moretti in A Brighter Tomorrow
Mathieu Amalric with Nanni Moretti in A Brighter Tomorrow Photo: courtesy of Cinecittà

From inside Film at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, Nicola Maccanico, the head of Cinecittà, joined me for an in-depth conversation on the heathy state of Italian cinema.

Anne-Katrin Titze: It’s been a year and you’re back with a particularly great Open Roads program! I think this year’s selection is a beautiful representation of Italian cinema and there’s a lot to see.

Nicola Maccanico: Yes, the good news for Italian cinema is that we are consolidating the quality and the variety of our films.

AKT: Consolidating is the word!

NM: The even better news is that this year in terms of variety it probably is the best year ever. In the sense that we have a variety of filmmakers. We have first works, established filmmakers, we have a very good quality and talented women representation here. Also the genre and the stories that are presented by the different movies are so different. Historic movies, contemporary movies, and this gives a sense of how much today in Italy we have filmmakers and producers able to build many kinds of story and many kinds of movie.

AKT: Last year we talked about what was filming in Cinecittà and there was Joe Wright with his Mussolini series. Is that done?

Nicola Maccanico, head of Cinecittà with Anne-Katrin Titze: “I think in order to decide where to go, it’s important to know the past, but even more to know where you are.”
Nicola Maccanico, head of Cinecittà with Anne-Katrin Titze: “I think in order to decide where to go, it’s important to know the past, but even more to know where you are.”

NM: I can’t wait to see the reaction of the audiences, because Joe Wright finished his work in Cinecittà. The TV series, from what I’ve seen, it’s outstanding so I can’t wait to start seeing more and more on screen and on TV what happened in Cinecittà. We already have There’s Still Tomorrow, because the Paola Cortellesi movie was the record-breaking box office movie of the year, and of the century in some way.

AKT: An enormous success!

NM: It was shot in Cinecittà and is here in Open Roads.

AKT: It’s fantastic! I liked it very much.

NM: I’m happy that you liked it! To me it’s a magic movie. The capacity of Paula, who worked in black and white to give such a contemporary feeling to an old story, represented with a lot of attention a lot of particulars that are reminding us of that era. So it’s great. There’s also Those About to Die, the Peacock TV series on gladiators, made by Roland Emmerich, and Queer by Luca Guadagnino with Daniel Craig - all amazing content, amazing movies that will come on screen and in the houses of millions of people, made in Cinecittà.

AKT: This is the perfect follow-up from last year, those were the projects you mentioned! Any new names that are filming there right now?

NM: As always, we can speak a lot about what already happened, we can’t speak about what’s going on now, because we have problems in terms of privacy while in production. Still important things are going on, we have a couple of international series that are taking off now in Cinecittà, so very soon I can tell you more!

AKT: More soon it is!

NM: I’m very sorry but I have to respect the needs of our clients.

Nicola Maccanico on There's Still Tomorrow: “The Paola Cortellesi movie was the record-breaking box office movie of the year, and of the century in some way.”
Nicola Maccanico on There's Still Tomorrow: “The Paola Cortellesi movie was the record-breaking box office movie of the year, and of the century in some way.” Photo: courtesy of Cinecittà

AKT: Absolutely. Let’s talk about some more of the films in this program, whose directors could not come to New York. It’s always nice to have a Nanni Moretti film!

NM: Nanni Moretti did a good movie that had a good success at the box office and he is still full of enthusiasm, full of capacity of working on surprises for the audience. A Brighter Tomorrow has this peculiar aspect of Nanni. But also Adagio, an amazing genre movie, made by Stefano Sollima.

AKT: His cast has the biggest names of male actors in Italy (Pierfrancesco Favino, Valerio Mastandrea, Toni Servillo, Adriano Giannini)!

NM: It’s another demonstration of how today Italian cinematography is able to work on genre movies with success, not noting any difference with big American genre movies. The global market of audiovisual is now able to create interesting content from every single region of the world with the same production value. So it’s a competition about stories. It’s not a competition about what happened where. A big movie, a big TV series can be written, directed, produced in every angle of the world and can become a global success.

AKT: Right before the Moretti film was shooting, I spoke with Mathieu Amalric who was on his way there. Was this also a co-production with Cinecittà?

NM: No, we don’t work on co-productions. Our goal today is to establish our role as a studio facility and not as a producer. So we are not making any co-production. Sometimes we collaborate with some projects, working to combine marketing, but it’s never co-production.

Gael García Bernal in Piero Messina’s Another End
Gael García Bernal in Piero Messina’s Another End Photo: courtesy of Cinecittà

AKT: Another film that impressed me in the lineup was Lubo.

NM: Lubo was presented at the Venice Film Festival. It’s a very peculiar movie in which Giorgio Diritti confirms his capacity of reading history in a different way. I’m happy that the film is here, unfortunately Giorgio wasn’t able to join. When you are able to make movies that are so good and so important, I think that movies can travel.

AKT: The beginning with Franz Rogowski coming out of the bear!

NM: It’s a surprising first scene. It’s a way you have a punch in your stomach in order to start being completely involved in the history, the story of the movie, and that feeling that Diritti wanted.

AKT: Later on you realise that this is also about identity, one identity within another!

NM: If you want to go a little bit wider, cinema is always about identity. Can be different identities, but cinema is always discovering identities of the character that you have on stage.

AKT: I just spoke with Piero Messina about his film, Another End, and I quoted Gertrude Stein to him, that I know I am myself when my little dog recognises me.

Franz Rogowski in Giorgio Diritti’s Lubo
Franz Rogowski in Giorgio Diritti’s Lubo Photo: courtesy of Cinecittà

NM: But life is a journey in finding identities! The other identities and also our identity! As much as a filmmaker is able to tell stories about discovering identities, as much they can create the right empathy with moviegoers.

AKT: Cinema is all about that. Do you remember the first movie you ever saw?

NM: In my life?

AKT: As a child!

NM: Yes, the first movie that I really remember in the sense that I remember the emotion that I felt, was Star Wars.

AKT: Star Wars! And the first Cinecittà movie you were consciously aware of?

NM: You know what, the first Cinecittà movie was probably Quo Vadis, a movie of the Sixties. I saw it when I was not so small like Star Wars but I remember Quo Vadis. It was the first movie that my mind has connected to the historic Cinecittà.

AKT: And here you are!

NM: I have to say, the reason why I’m very proud of what we’ve done together is because you can only be a successful CEO if you have a successful team. You are the edge of the mountain, but without the mountain you can’t deliver anything. And I was very fortunate with Cinecittà because I found a great team helping me and supporting me. Having said that, now we are proud that Cinecittà is back on track.

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema poster at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema poster at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater Photo: Anne Katrin Titze

Cinecittà is today exactly what it was in the Sixties, a studio lot able to deliver services to the best productions all over the world, able to see building within our borders amazing movies, amazing stories that will be delivered to the global audiences.

AKT: Another film that I loved that connects beautifully past and present is Roberta Torre’s film, In the Mirror [Mi Fanno Male I Capelli], inspired by Monica Vitti. I spoke with her earlier on Zoom and the feature will be up as we speak. It’s a great example of connecting Antonioni films to ideas of memory in the now.

NM: When you have a story so important and so bright, as we have, it’s inevitable and also, I have to say nice, that we find that connection with the past, a sort of constant bridges that put together what we were and what we are today. I also think Roberta did a good job with that.

AKT: Because if you don’t see the past, where are you going?

NM: Sure, I think in order to decide where to go, it’s important to know the past, but even more to know where you are.

AKT: We are in the cold Walter Reade theater right now and there is sunshine outside, where we are going! Thank you !

NM: Thank you so much! Every time is a pleasure!

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