Director Gianni Amelio has the proud look of someone who knows he bet on the right person. Back in 1989 the filmmaker discovered Renato Carpentieri, a stage actor who was given the first big-screen opportunity with Amelio's Open Doors. Amelio worked again with him for Holding Hands, and Carpentieri just won Best Actor at this year's David di Donatello Award for that role. Amelio says: "I've already won four Davids, I didn't need a fifth one. I was there to support my nominated actors. Renato is the first Italian actor to achieve the big slam by winning the four most important prizes in Italy: Silver Ribbon, David di Donatello, Golden Globe, and Golden Ciak." Cinecittà News meets the director at the Cortinametraggio Short Film Festival, where he was awarded a special Silver Ribbon for his short film Someone Else's Home.
Let's start from Carpentieri. Why in Italy one should wait to be 75 to be recognized for his talent?
It happens when talent is not fashionable. Renato Carpentieri has never cared or aimed to be fashionable or endearing, he never sold himself He also played with Volonté, who was winning awards while he was never recognized. I remember he used to feel bad for it.
Maybe it is just because Italian cinema tends to choose always the same names?
Of course we should be braver. I told the same to Renato and to the producers on the David night. I cannot deny I had to fight to have him in Holding Hands.
And on the film poster too...
The distributors and those in charge of making the firm marketable were afraid to put him in the foreground. But Renato is very clever and never had the common frenzy "if my name is not the first one, I won't do it". He knew the audience would have recognized him anyway.
Do you too think that tenderness is a revolutionary virtue today?
Before me, an extraordinary politician such as Pope Francis said "Men need tenderness." Often we are not brave enough to be tender, we mistake it for weakness and appeasement, especially us men.
You've recently published an autobiographical novel, "Daily Father". It's a powerful story about fatherhood: are you planning to adapt it for the big screen?
I care more for this book than I do for all the films I made. It's because of the topic, but also because I found a level of writing which I didn't think I could reach. It recounts my adoption of an Albanian boy while I was shooting Lamerica, and that's something that allowed me to have an incredible family. If I find a director willing to adapt it on the big screen, I would be very glad. I wouldn't do it myself, I wrote a book exactly because I thought that was the best form to tell this story. I'd like to find a director who could recognize himself in this story, I'm not interested in big names.
Which director do you feel closer to your style?
I teach at the National Film School since 1983 and many among my students have now become famous director, for instance Paolo Virzì. The one I believe to be closer to my style is Francesco Munzi. I also like Saverio Costanzo, who is very good.
And among the younger filmmakers?
There's Jonas Carpignano who, for a bizarre twist of fate, is the son of one of my best friends, the second person I met at 19 when I arrived in Rome. We wished to write scripts together, the other night at the David Awards I saw him again after decades. He was with his son, who made an extremely interesting film.
After many documentaries, you made your first short with Someone Else's Home, set among the ruins of Amatrice. Would you feel like shooting another short?
I'd love to. If they give me the freedom to tell a story the way I want, then I'm ok with it. I have so many ideas that I ask the Holy Father, if there's one, to grant me the number one element for someone who does such a tiring work: health.
Have you ever thought of making a film on terrorism today?
When I will think about it, I'll do it. There is no topic I automatically exclude. I just need to be granted total freedom.