Sunday, June 6, 2010

Open Roads: TEN WINTERS introduces smart first-time filmmaker, Valerio Mieli

In his Q&A following premiere showing of TEN WINTERS (Dieci Inverni) during this year's FSLC Open Roads series, first-time filmmaker Valierio Mieli (shown at left), explained to the audience how this episodic, unusual love story came about. It was indeed, as we were told pre-screening, a project born in a film school.  "They wanted to do -- instead of the usual short -- a full-length feature, and they asked for ideas," the filmmaker told us, "and they chose mine!"

The film stars two extremely talented young actors: Isabella Ragonese (below) and Michele Riondino (further below).  Evidently, in order to raise the necessary budget, a co-production with another country was needed. At first, the director said, he planned to use Berlin as his big, cold foreign city, but then Russia reared its head (one director at the festival told me that, these days, the best friend of Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is Russia's Vladimir Putin!). In any case, countries don't come much colder than Russia, and so the film was shot there, as well as in and around Venice, Italy.

"Why was everything shot in winter?" one audience member asked.  "Because this story could not have happened in summer," the filmmaker explained. "We are all too 'undressed' then."  Winter, he finds to be more non-erotic. Melancholic. "You will notice, " he told us, "that the last scene in the film is actually not so much winter, but early Spring.  So things are changing."

"Isn't your male character sort of taking on the usual female role in this movie? Is this film autobiographical, perhaps?" asked another viewer.  "Next question," responded the director, to a good laugh.  But then he was happy to explain further: "Yes, it is both somewhat autobiographical and somewhat fictional."

Did you ever think about not having such a Hollywood ending to the film? Something darker?" asked another viewer.  To that, the director asked for a show of hands from the audience: those who would have preferred a darker ending were in the clear minority.  This is not unusual, perhaps, but TrustMovies also voted for the happier ending.  It seems to me that when a movie does not offer a Hollywood beginning nor a Hollywood middle, then the ending is probably not so Hollywood, either.

In fact, noted the director, a Hollywood ending might have included the last-minute faux suspense of will she/won't he make that/stop that train/plane -- that kind of thing.  Just because an ending is not dark or negative, does not necessarily make it "Hollywood."

A review of Ten Winters appears in the complete Open Roads round-
up here. Just click and scroll down to near the bottom of the post.

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