He's not even 30 but has clear ideas. A film director and talented comic writer, Fulvio Risuleo shot his first shorts in his room when he was just a teenager, driven by his passion for horror, genre cinema, and comics. Attending the National Film School took him to Cannes where he presented the short film Sourdough earning the third prize at the Cinéfondation. Thanks to this award, Risuleo financed another short, Chicken Pox, with which got back on the Croisette and won the Prix Découverte Sony CineAlta at the Cannes Critics' Week. After this, he spent two weeks in Los Angeles at the Universal studios, and published his first comic book, Pixel. After spending a period in Paris, where he shot Reportage bizarre, Risuleo started working on his first feature film, now premiering in the Italian Panorama section of Alice nella Città, Rome Film Festival. A road movie set on the roofs of Rome, Look Up recounts the exploration of the "aboveworld". This parallel, upside-down world is inhabited by a peculiar community that captures the attention of Teco, a young bakery assistant. Produced by Revok and Rai Cinema, Risuleo's film has an international cast including Giacomo Ferrara, French actress Aurélia Poirier, Czech actor Ivan Franek, and the Swedish Lou Castel.

How did you get interested in the "aboveworld"?
The idea came up 5 years ago, when I was 22. I hadn't yet shot my shorts at the time and I was attending the second year at the National Film School. I was thinking about the storyline of my first feature and everything went hand in hand. The shorts, the Reportage bizarre in Paris and this film are born together at the same time, and influenced each other. The idea was that of making a road movie in which a number of characters that I had in my mind could coexist. Going on the roofs of Piazza Vittorio one day, I realized that they are all connected so I thought I could move all my characters up there. From that moment everything started working out, evertything seemed logical, because the roofs represent a systerm where everything is possible. The film is set during one day only, which is symbolic, and during which the protagonist, Teco, explores himself and the others.

Bizarre settings seem to be your favourites.

"Bizarre" is the word I love the most now, because it represents all that I am interested in: it's not fantastical, but it's not realistic - it's strange, a believable kind of strange.

The film echoes the influence of comics.
My inspiration comes from the comics first of all, and in particular from the French-Belgian comic Tintin. The film is not a free adaptation of this book, which is anyway the reading that touched me the most when I was a teenager. The book says it is for people " from 7 to 77", because it reconciles all age groups by recounting explorations, mysteries, and extreme situations using a light tone. There are some murky things going on too, but it's never sick. It's an accepted sickness: a middle way that I like.

What are your cinematic references?
One of the auteurs that inspired me the most during the shooting of my film, is Werner Herzog: the travels on foot, the documentaries never too realistic, his extreme films. I love his bravery in doing whatever he wants, following his artistic and life philosophy. Other references also include Michel Gondry and David Lynch, that is directors who are not only directors but real artists. I'd love to go that way as well.

Something you share with Herzog is that fact that you shot your debut film before turning 30.

Since I was a child, I promised myself to make my first film very soon. When I was 15 I made a bet with a friend, saying that I would have done it within 10 years. I did it. There's no real reason to make a film soon, but I also think it might be frustrating to do it when you are 40 after waiting too much time. So better start now. I've been lucky though, also thanks to the faith that Revok and Rai Cinema put in me.

How did you start your collaboration with Revok?

I started shooting my homemade shorts when I was just a child thanks to Donatello Della Pepa, who's 10 years my senior. Years later I got admitted at the National film School. Donatello opened his production company in the meantime and suggested to work together on my first film, in name of the friendship and trust between us. Although working with a small company could have been problematic in order to find funds for the film, I thought that it was worth it in terms of artistic freedom. On the creative level there was no censorship, and I understood this is the way I want to work in the future.

Has your experience at the National Film School been important to you?
Very much. First of all, 90% of my technical crew come from the school. With them, I made the two shorts that were awarded in Cannes. They know the first draft of my script, written 5 years ago.Despite the budget constraints, the shooting went fine exactly for these reasons. As for the teachers, I enjoyed learning from Daniele Luchetti and Marco Danieli, who admitted me in the school although I was below the age average at that time. I've always tried to repay their trust in me. I'm still in contact with them and they often give me useful tips.

Is Look Up an autobiographical film?
Although there's a physical resemblance between me and the protagonist, Look Up is more a biographical film I would say, because I took inspiration from people in my life to imagine the characters. Teco, the protagonist, really exists and is made of many people I know. For this reason we decided not to make his psychology too deep, in order for everyone to see themselves in him. Exactly like the character of a videogame or a comic book, he is a void to be filled in.

What are your future plans?
I'm writing a new story, different from Look Up. It's a noir revolving around a purebred dog, a french bulldog. Two storylines intertwine and several characters pretend to be detectives. It's a noir, but a comedy too.

Your film is premiering in Alice nella città.
Alice nella città is the right festival for this small film. At first we hoped to go to Cannes but now I guess it's better this way. If people here will like it, the film will have a life beyond this festival. I am confident, because many things are going in the right way. However, I am not interested in personal success, I'd rather collaborate with the others, create something together. Before being a director, I am a film buff and I'd like to give my contribution to cinema and artistic research in order to push people to leave their homes, make them think, discuss - something that our cinema is not very much able to do it now. We should all think a bit more about the collectivity.


ROMA 2017