Iginio Straffi • Director
"My gladiators against doping”
by Vittoria Scarpa
- The director of the Winx Club returns to the big screen with Not Born to be Gladiators 3D, out in Italy on October 18, and across the world starting next spring
His first feature length animation films Winx Club – The Secret of the Lost Kingdom [+see also:
film profile] and Winx Club 3D – Magic Adventure [+see also:
film profile], were sold in 45 countries around the world. With his latest piece of work, Not Born to be Gladiators 3D [+see also:
film profile] (coming out in Italy on October 18 in 400 copies with Medusa), the Italian director, producer and animator Iginio Straffi will also be entering the American market next Easter, where his film will be the first Italian animation film to be distributed in 3,000 copies.
“Perhaps the only other Italian film distributed so well was Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful,” said the director, who is also the founder and president of animation studio Rainbow, which produced the film. The blockbuster-to-be is set in ancient Rome. It is a story of love and redemption, made for children but with some appeal to the older generations too.
Cineuropa: How was Not Born to be Gladiators 3D conceived?
Iginio Straffi: We wanted to tell an Italian story, which would have an international appeal. In the end, it came down to either doing another version of Pinocchio [+see also:
interview: Enzo D'Alò
film profile], like Enzo D'Alò, or coming up with something else. We thought of ancient Rome because it is the most internationally known and appreciated part of our history. We wanted to come up with something spectacular which could also be a comedy. So we settled for gladiators, who can be compared to today’s wrestlers. They are easy to parody.
Unlike your Winx films, Not Born to be Gladiators 3D is also after a grown-up public.
Michael Wilson, the Hollywood mastermind behind Ice Age and Shark Tale, was involved in the screenwriting. We wanted to make a film which the whole family could enjoy, like Shrek. Wilson helped us give the film rhythm and gave the text some extra jokes and quotes. We then chose people who were good at giving characters voices: Luca Argentero, Laura Chiatti and Belen Rodriguez. Special effects were done at Pinewood Studios in London.
In the United States, your distributor will be Paramount. Were you asked to make any changes?
We did some audience tests, and some scenes were changed as we were working on the film. For traditionally conservative American and Saudi audiences, references to homosexuality had to be taken out, like the joke that a gladiator wanted to drop everything to become a hairdresser. We also had to tweak a few aspects of Diana’s character, Timo’s beautiful and sensual personal trainer, like when she puts her foot on a stool and shows her leg. As for the rest, this is a family film, with neither blood nor violence.
And you also include a positive message against doping.
Gladiators in those days were superstars, a bit like football players are today. I am a dreamer and I’d like to think that if some athletes had seen a film such as this one as children, they would have thought twice before taking performance-enhancing drugs. The message is that shortcuts don’t pay off. If you believe in what you do, you work hard and you beat the cheaters.
Either way, Not Born to be Gladiators is set to have a long international career.
The film has already been bought in 30 countries. Between February and April 2013 it will be coming out in the United States, across Latin America, and in many South East Asian countries, including Korea. In Europe, it has been bought in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavian countries, many Eastern European countries like Poland, and then there is Russia and Turkey. Other European countries are waiting to see how well it does at the Italian box-office.
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