Letizia Lamartire • Director
“This woman contains a lot of passion and emotion, which I was happy to try to justify”
by Jan Lumholdt
- VENICE 2018: Italian director Letizia Lamartire’s feature debut, We'll Be Young and Beautiful is playing in the International Film Critics' Week
Returning to the Lido just one year after her graduation short, Little Italian Girls, premiered in the International Film Critics’ Week at the 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival, Letizia Lamartire is now back in the same section with her first feature, We'll Be Young and Beautiful [+see also:
interview: Letizia Lamartire
film profile]. Set in the city of Ferrara, the story centres on Isabella, a one-hit-wonder pop singer, and her son Bruno, himself a musician, and their struggles with life, love and music. The leads are played by Barbora Bobulova and Alessandro Piavani, and for the important musical backdrop, Matteo Buzzanca composed songs in typical and believable late-1980s and early-1990s style. Indeed, not long after Cineuropa sat down with the Bari-born, Centro Sperimentale-educated director, the film was awarded with a Soundtrack Stars Award by the festival for its musical qualities.
Cineuropa: Not every Italian filmmaker looks forward to having their film – a first feature at that – screened on national soil at Venice. At least you were given a “gentle” start last year. How do you feel right now?
Letizia Lamartire: Emotional, partly for the reason you pointed out. But also because of the great reward this is, to so many people who put so much work into the film. Many of them are schoolmates from the Centro Sperimentale, my film school in Rome, and for most of them, it’s their first experience after graduation. But for me, since I’m not entirely new to Venice, as I was here last year with my short film, I’m reasonably well prepared. It’s very nice to be re-confirmed by the festival – and also very lucky.
The two main characters, Isabella and Bruno, are around 40 and 20 years old. You yourself are around 30 – more or less exactly in the middle. Was that a good place to start?
Very much so. I see both perspectives – Bruno’s internal troubles as well as Isabella’s side of things. I feel perhaps a little closer to Bruno, not least in his artistic ambitions, but I immediately fell in love with Isabella when she turned up in the script. This woman contains a lot of passion and emotion – all of which I was very happy to try to justify!
When did the music and singing enter the film?
It was there from the start, and to me, the music is really the third main character in the movie. Marco Borromei, one of my co-writers, got the original idea. He wanted me to direct this story because of my own background; I have some music-conservatory education in singing, guitar and bass. I directly felt right at home with this; the film really became mine as a director. Matteo Buzzanca wrote the music in parallel with the script, so everything became intertwined.
You needed two actors who could also sing and play. Were they hard to find?
Alessandro Piavani sings really well, but I needed someone who could also play the guitar, which he could not. So I taught him. It took six months. And Barbora Bobulova… I didn’t choose her; she chose me! She was just perfect. As a big-name actress in Italy, she was super-kind to me, the first-timer. Today I can also call her a friend. Barbora took some opera lessons in her youth, and did both the singing and the acting parts beautifully. If there’s anything I hope this film gets recognition for, it’s her performance.
The lack of female directors in this year’s edition of the Venice Film Festival has been scrutinised rather intensely. What are your own thoughts on this matter?
I would really like to understand why this is happening. We can look at the data: were there very few applications? What went wrong? I’d like to understand this. That aside, I understand that a woman can’t just make a movie and get selected. But it would be interesting to get to the underlying reasons, not least to be able to improve ourselves as women in cinema and get more chances to be selected. At the same time, it’s important that we do not present ourselves as victims to a system. I’m optimistic – interest and trust are growing fast in female directing.
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