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Silvia Luzi, Luca Bellino • Directors

“We were looking for real protagonists for Crater


- VENICE 2017: Crater, by duo of documentarians Silvia Luzi and Luca Bellino, is screening at Venice, in the International Critics’ Week

Silvia Luzi, Luca Bellino  • Directors
(© Leonardo Kurtz / International Critics' Week)

The pair of documentarians Silvia Luzi and Luca Bellino have made their feature-length fiction debut, which tells the story of a father who gambles everything on his teenage daughter’s singing abilities in order to achieve social redemption. For Crater [+see also:
film review
interview: Silvia Luzi, Luca Bellino
film profile
, selected for the Venice Film Festival, in the International Critics’ Week, they used two non-professional actors from Naples who are actually father and daughter in real life: Rosario is a street trader who peddles stuffed animals, while Sharon is a young Neomelodic singer.

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Cineuropa: Was the idea for the film born after you met the protagonists?
and Bellino: The story was already well defined, and the elements of reality were added in afterwards, but obviously the screenplay was modelled on the protagonists. In order to find what we were looking for, we needed real people, a real-life father and daughter, real clothes and real locations. That’s our idea of cinema.

What struck you the most about Rosario and Sharon?
Rosario’s incredible talent and Sharon’s angelic face. Rosario was unaware of his talent; he has this face that conveys anguish, determination and anger. We worked with them in completely different ways. Rosario already had it all inside him, and it was very easy to tease it out; everything was very visceral. Sharon, on the other hand, had to learn her parts from time to time. We rehearsed every scene for a few days, but we shot it all chronologically. They discovered how the story progressed, and we discussed every scene with them, especially with Rosario, who even lent us a hand with the screenwriting early on. Before beginning the shoot, it was often the case that at night he would write things that he would then suggest to us the day after. And some of them ended up in the movie.

Was it a long process?
It was long and complex because they had to change their temperaments completely: Sharon is usually quite jolly, and she laughs and jokes, like a 15-year-old girl does, but here she had to play a very pensive character, with very few lines; she had to bring out her inner self through her looks and glances. With Rosario, on the other hand, we opted to take things away, and in fact we transformed him into a strong-willed father who had to contain his anger and express it through his face. It was really challenging for them.

What was the most difficult thing?
Explaining to the lead actors what we wanted to do at the very beginning. After the first few scenes, once they had understood the system we had put in place, everything ran smoothly.

Why did you choose the world of Neomelodic songs?
We were interested in this area because it’s one of the few in which recognition happens straight away; it’s such a self-referential, small world, restricted to a tiny circle of towns and villages in Campania, but if a song is any good, they watch it on TV and they’re all singing it within a week.

Did you have any cinematic references or role models?
In the film, there are many clear references to the Dardenne brothers, Truffaut’s first and Kiarostami in terms of this type of work with non-professional teenagers, but not stylistically speaking... However, while filming, we weren’t thinking of anyone in particular; this was the first time that we had found ourselves in a situation where we were able to work at our leisure and make exactly what we wanted to make, with complete freedom – including on the production front. If there are any references, they are completely unintentional.

Rosario places video cameras all over the house. How did this idea of video recordings come about?
The idea was to create a crater within the crater. The house had to become some kind of boundary, if not a prison. Because a lack of social recognition leads you to take shelter in your own little world and defend it. It’s a combination of controlling and protecting the daughter, and it happens when love falls by the wayside. He doesn’t want to become rich; it’s actually about achieving social redemption. Rosario is rebelling – it’s a quirky, half-hearted rebellion, but a rebellion nonetheless. Just like Sharon is rebelling. The starting point in the idea for the script was just that – two rebellions destined to collide.

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(Translated from Italian)

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