Daniele Incalcaterra is at the Mar del Plata Film Festival in a dual capacity: as a director with Chaco, co-directed with Fausta Quattrini and presented in the Latin-American competition; and as an actor in the Portuguese film The Nothing Factory featured in the international competition. In both cases his presence is strongly political and clearly militant.

Chaco continues the reseach started with El Impenetrable in 2012 by telling a story that is very personal and totally universal at the same time: that of a large area of virgin forest in Paraguay, 5000 hectares inherited by the director's father, who was a diplomatic and got this land as a concession from the General Stroessner during the dictatorship. This inheritance could become an estate if deforested and used as a pasture for cattle or sown with soy. That's what happened to a large part of the confining lands. To the contrary, the Rome-born filmmaker decided to turn it into a concrete utopia by leaving it to the natives Guaranì and to scientific research. The mission might be impossible as another self-proclaiming owner claims rights on this land. In this way, Arcadia (that's the name of the land) has become the litmus test of the injustices perpetrated against the planet and its inhabitants for the sake of capitalist business, often in tha shadow of complicit politics.

Injustices play their part in the interesting The Nothing Factory too, a film made by a Portuguese collective (but the only credited director is Pedro Pinho) and starring real dismissed workers. The story revolves around a factory of elevators that gets delocalized unbeknownst to the workers, who found themselves without machines and raw materials overnight. However they decide not to yeld to the owner's blackmail (a settlement of 10,000 Euro to be negotiated singularly) and to create a coopeative to go on with their work. By following the private life of one of the workers as well as the personal and work dynamics of the group, the film wants to be a reflection on the redefinition of capitalism in Europe and in the world, where the dismantling of the working class gave way to a social model based on individualism and ruthless exploitation. Incalcaterra plays the role of an Argentinian documentarist who follow the struggles within the factory accompanied by other "intellectual" characters, bearing the theoretical part of a film straddling between the narrative documentary and the working-class musical. The following interview was conducted via email: Incalcaterra is currently in Africa, in Bangui, collaborating with the Ateliers Varan to the training of 10 young filmmakers of tomorrow.

The Arcadia project has already inspired two films, El Impenetrable and Chaco. What's its future, both in the reality and in films? Are you planning to work on new topics or to continue on this line?
In the reality, we must wait for the upcoming presidential election in Paraguay which will be held in April 2018. Then we'll understand if the next government will stick to its responsibilities. The land ownership all over the Americas is an issue lasting since the "Conquest".

In your films you put yourself in front of the camera. You share this style with other contemporary Italian (and non-Italian) filmmakers. Do you feel cinematically close to any of them?
No, I don't. Passing by in front of the camera is a natural choice for me. When we begain the shooting of El Impenetrable, Fausta Quattrini and I realized that I couldn't avoid it. That's my story and the destiny of 5.000 hectares of forest are at the core of this story.

You live between two cultures and two worlds. How much do you feel like an Italian filmmaker (if you feel like it at all)? And how much a Latin-American one?
Defining myself as an Italian filmmaker is complicated for me as I started my career as a film director in France, where my films were labelled as art-house cinema. In Argentina instead, my films belong to the independent cinema movement. These are the two bases from which my work has developed. In Italy I always felt to be out of the game. I use the word "game" because I can't understand the habits of the Italian production system, where rules don't exist and, in some cases, when they exist then become unacceptable.

How does your collaboration with Fausta Quattini work? What does it mean for you to shoot a film four-handed?
I've been working with Fausta for years now. It's a complex and necessary collaboration, in which coupledom and film production intertwines. In this film, as in the previous one, I'm also the protagonist. Without Fausta's gaze, the narration would struggle. As you might have noticed, the narrative structure develops as the shooting proceeds. It's not a fixed script as in fiction film, but a dynamic and changing script that is typical of direct documenties.

A huge and intimidating boa constrictor is, in fact, less dangerous than a small spider. Is it a metaphor of social and political contexts, or just an observation of nature?

The boa is not dangerous at all. My friend Jota plays with it, while I provoke him by suggesting to follow the snake, to go with it towards the world of uncontaminated nature. The small spider instead, is deadly dangerous - it's a black widow.

Chaco is the story of an environmentalist and human utopia. Among the contemporary utopist there is also, somehow, Pope Francis. Can you tell us how did you decided to include him in the film, and why you chose not to read aloud his answer in the film?
The involvement of Pope Francis happened as a surprise. As a joke, I gave a copy of the film to my brother, a high-ranking official of the United Nations. I told him to take it to the Pope. A few weeks later, I received a thank-you email from him, who detailed a precise analysis on the film topics. The same themes would have been tackled during his upcoming trip to Paraguay. This unexpected relation was included in the narration through the sending of an email to the Pope, which I read for my friend and collaborator Jota. I decided not to read the answer, received just a few hours after the email was sent. Another surprise was the fact that the Pope made one of his Paraguay speeches just under the windows of the lobby where a large part of the film was shot.