An intense letter to his father. As well
as an exploration of Venice lagoon during its gloomiest days of the Coronavirus
pandemic, to the discovery of beauty and emptiness. Even more, a documentary on
the effects of mass tourism on a fragile city. Pre-opening film of the 77°
Venice Film Festival, Molecole, by Andrea Segre, is an
intimate and touching movie, composed of water and memories which reappear into
silence and confinement. Together with his father Ulderico and his uncle
Giuliano’s amazing Super8 shots, photographs stored in secrets drawers,
forgotten glances and the unresolved relationship of the 44yrs old director
grown up in Padova with his hometown city. Among the faces of Molecole Elena “Nena” Almansi, 24yrs
old, a yoga expert that tours us around the magic of a city wounded by the high
water and the invasion of an unwitting tourism. A film which evolved in the
author’s hands, starting out as a cinema and theater double project and, during
the lockdown period, becoming a reflection about the relationship with his
father, a Venetian, scientist, man of few words, leaving behind many unanswered
questions after his death.
Produced by ZaLab Film with Rai Cinema in
association with Vulcano and Istituto Luce Cinecittà and in cooperation with
Teatro Stabile of Veneto Carlo Goldoni, Molecole
will be released on September 3rd by ZaLab in collaboration with
At the end of February, during an unusual
lifeless Carnival because of Coronavirus, Segre (Shun Li and the poet, First snowfall) was working on two projects.
While he was filming though, the virus froze and emptied the city right in
front of his eyes, giving it back to nature. Therefore, he remained in the
family home where he had the chance to dig into memories. Ulderico’s personal
archive in Super8 alternates with encounters with Venetian citizens and the
director voice over, together with the music by Teho Teardo, gives birth to a
unique vision of the lockdown.
It’s a very personal film, with a great issues’
complexity. How did you build the dialog with your absent father, passed away
ten years ago?
I went into it with no understanding and
without any rationalization. Everything that you see, has been filmed without
thinking it would turn out to be a movie on my father. I lived, thought and
dreamt during those days, but only when I came back to Rome I started
understanding what was happening and then I began to open those drawers. My
father entrusted one of my mother’s cousins with the Super8, then I found a few
of my old letters to him which he failed to reply to, but still jealously
preserved together with some pictures. Among the photos, two of them are representing
me as a kid in his arms in front of the mirror, I already knew the one in which
you can see both of our faces, but I didn’t know the second one…
How important has
the lockdown been in allowing the start of this imaginary dialog?
None of this
would have happened if this condition hadn’t come around, it’s unconceivable, a
silence that tells so much and an emptiness from which the relation with my
father’s silences and blanks flows. If I hadn’t been in Venice during those
days, I would have never started this journey. It’s Camus’ unfathomable
relationship with destiny, a writer loved by my father. Sometimes things happen
which seem to be written for you. I had never taken the decision to live in
Venice, my relationship with a city where you can barely move around it’s
You went to
Venice for other projects.
I was supposed to
be in Venice from February 20th to March 20th. I was
working on a project by Teatro Stabile of Veneto, my first theater direction
with Andrea Pennacchi, an experimental work in dialog with cinema on the
relationship between Venice and water, which will be staged on March 2021. The
second project is a full-length film produced by Iole and Rai Cinema with
production scheduled to start in October, which tells the story of three
fishing brothers from Giudecca that need to decide what to do with their house,
whether to use it for tourism or not.
As a matter of
fact, Molecole also shows the
environmental impact on a city like Venice and his residents.
This is not
purely a Venice’s issue. Mass tourism has a serious environmental and
anthropological impact on our lives everywhere. I believe that tourism and the
emptying of historic centers in order to create availability for tourists is a
serious problem. So far we only thought about keeping the economy working, but now
we are facing an issue similar to the one of petrochemical during the 50’s: it
is something that creates jobs at a very high cost. It’s true that stopping
tourism means loosing jobs, because in Venice there are 40 thousands operators.
But the city, that will elect the new Major on September 20th, has
been questioning itself on this issue for a number of years, there are many
civic movements. Structural decisions have to be made. Big economic interventions
are at stake. For each day we have 120 thousands people in Venice, of which
only 40 thousands are residents.
sustainability, during the lockdown period it seemed as if we learned to slow
the pace of a society based on incessant consumption and failure to respect
Earth’s resources. But now everything is going back to what it was before, with
a complete lack of environmental awareness.
One of humanity’s
ills is that we seem to learn a lot from tragedies, but in reality we go back
to make the same mistakes over and over. But we are also building some antibodies that
protect us as we go. The 1900’s nationalism, racism, totalitarianism did not
disappear, they are coming back in a karstic way, but we indeed built
antibodies. I hope that this year, so powerful in showing mankind’s impact on
nature and other men, will help us to build antibodies able to express that we
will not go back to pump up as before. Cinema’s small contribution to this
matter is to settle memories in order to give a meaning to what we lived. Every
day life offers us a very hurried relationship with memory. In such a fast life
and images’ production, cinema may be able to stop the run, giving us the
chance for a better understanding.
What does opening
the festival mean for you?
I am extremely
happy that the festival is happening and is telling to the whole world that
cinema belongs to movie theaters. We do not need to settle for watching movies
at home alone. Theaters have an artistic and social value, which gives cinema a
function that is more than just individual. This is a new start. We need to
start off again without forgetting what happened and what has been.