The "close encounter" with Nanni Moretti
at the Rome Film Fest ended up in a very emotional way as the director confessed he had fought against a cancer relapse. The news was releaved by showing 8 minutes of his upcoming short film, Autobiografia dell'uomo mascherato
(lit. Autobiography of the man in disguise). Moretti himself is the man in disguise as he portrays himself with a large white mask like the ones used during radiotherapy sessions. As the lights in the theatres are switched on and the audience erupts in a storm of applauses, Moretti raises his hands in sign of victory, and shows his biceps just like a superhero. The director had already recounted his previous experience with cancer in the episode "Doctors" from his 1993 film Dear Diary,
chronicling with great self-irony the difficulties in obtaining a diagnosis for his Hodgkin lymphoma. There's a light touch this time as well, just slightly melancholic. We see a masked man who walks through Rome and then who open large boxes, where he finds diaries full of drawings and notes. Then he watches people dancing in front of the festival's Auditorium, and takes part in the film festival that Moretti runs every summer in his own cinema, the Nuovo Sacher. Here comes the moment of truth, when he says: "I got another cancer twenty years later and I've filmed one of the many radiotherapy sessions."
During the "encounter", that lasted over one hour, Moretti talked generously about himself also by showing many video clips. He's a passionate film buff, an actor, producer, film exhibitor, and a meticulous director (he showed many wrong takes from his latest Mia madre
, and a fight with actress Margherita Buy during the shooting of The Caiman
). A self-portray spotted with many fun, tender, and sharp moments. Among the funniest ones, commented on the spot, the several videos he shot during his experiences as a jury member in Cannes, Venice, Turin, and Locarno, when his notorious quest for debate took the other jurors to the limit of exasperation. "It's just wrong when a jury looks for a unanimous verdict because then you go awarding an average film. You need to discuss a lot instead. In 1997 in Cannes, when we gave a joint Palm d'Or to Kiarostami and Imamura, the other jurors were exausted. At the beginning we were one versus nine - that is, I was the only one rooting for The Taste of Cherry
- and at the end we were five versus five. The other contender was The Eel
, supported by my enemy Mike Leigh." And also: "We were kidnapped in this luxury hotel surrounded by police. Mike Leigh at the end was half dead in front of the TV. Tim Burton was playing a parody of 007, Paul Auster was just adoring himself. The discussion pn the Palm d'Or lasted for two hours. When we reached a verdict, I went to the toilet and Michael Ondaatje, the writer of The English Patient
, said 'While you're in the lavatory we'll vote all the other prizes' but they didn't do it." In the end, a memory of his career as an actor and of his first cancer: "I was about to make a film with Kieslowski. In the late 1990s he asked me to play in The Double Life of Veronique
, but I wasn't feeling well. I thought I was depressed, but it came out it was a cancer. I told him I couldn't do it, I was very sorry as I think he's great."
Another very Moretti moment took place when the director called his cinema over the phone, to see how the box office was going for the film on release, Susanna Nicchiarelli's Nico, 1988
: "What kind of audience do we have tonight? It's not our usual folk. They must be musicians, people from the radio, you can see it from their hair, from what they wear, and then they all know each other, they greet each other."