Roberto Minervini • Director
"The films I make are what I experience every day"
- CANNES 2015: We chatted to Roberto Minervini, the director of The Other Side, which is in competition in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival
"I wanted to be a war correspondent; I reached a compromise by making militant films." Roberto Minervini is the fourth Italian in competition at the Cannes Film Festival with his The Other Side [+see also:
interview: Roberto Minervini
film profile], which is in the parallel, competitive Un Certain Regard section. In his view, cinema is like a mission: "I’m not Rossellini, but one makes films while maintaining one’s integrity." Furthermore, his main activity is building eco-friendly houses in Texas, because "making this type of documentary would certainly not enable my family to get by!"
And so, on a daily basis, Minervini experiences first hand that destitute America that he depicts in his docu-fiction bristling with powerful, shocking images (set to hit Italian screens on 28 May, courtesy of Lucky Red). "America is the most complicated place in the world when it comes to contradictions. It’s an abyss ready and willing to swallow you up. I consider myself fortunate, but if I lost my job, I would also lose my health insurance, which means I would be a man without any protection any more.
"The cyclic nature of the economy, with its ups and downs, sweeps away entire fringes of society. The last crisis, the real-estate one, decimated whole segments of society. The USA is a country that is short-circuiting, a crazy nation that has lost its head."
How did Minervini manage to get out intact, mentally, from those 150 hours of shooting, from that very close relationship that he established with Iraq war veterans, armed and neurotic militants, and misfits and previous offenders whose lives have been ruined by methamphetamine? "I didn’t get out of it at all. It’s not easy for me; they are part of my day-to-day life. Once they place their trust in you, you can’t ditch them, but all this has its price." He is moved to tears as he speaks about the characters in his film. "Some of them came here to the festival to watch the screening. I stand by them; they are desperate people who are scared of not making it through, and they absolutely need to have a community to protect them."
How are his films changing in the wake of his Texas trilogy? "After Stop the Pounding Heart [+see also:
film profile], I wanted to depict two unconnected realities and shift the focus of the discussion from observational to a conceptual and political one. My knowledge of the people and the territory has increased, and my voice has also got louder."
(Translated from Italian)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.