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VENICE 2019 Out of Competition

Andrea Segre • Director of Il pianeta in mare

"I did what us documentary filmmakers do: we ask to enter the premises and to stay for an unusually long period of time"


- VENICE 2019: We chat with Venetian director Andrea Segre, whose Il pianeta in mare is screened out of competition in Venice

Andrea Segre  • Director of Il pianeta in mare
(© Valeria Fioranti)

Venetian director Andrea Segre tells us about the making of his latest documentary, Il pianeta in mare [+see also:
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interview: Andrea Segre
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, set in the Marghera commune of Venice and screened out of competition at the 76th Venice International Film Festival.

Cineuropa: Why did you choose to make a documentary about the “industrial planet” of Marghera?
Andrea Segre: I believe there is a sort of dismissal going on in Italy with regards to these places that are not only of economic importance but also essential.The fear that that the wounds of those places provoked — and rightfully so — has rid them of public, political and human attention. However, I think that this lack of attention could produce very serious problems. I wanted to dedicate a cinematic — not journalistic — film to the life and essential places of Marghera. When I find something that intrigues me, something that I think I know but don’t have any direct experience with, I try to discover it thoroughly and to cross that border. In this case, I entered one of the most important industrial areas of Italy, one that is also very beautiful from an aesthetic point of view thanks to the Laguna. It was a great and beautiful adventure. 

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What are the hopes of the community for the future?
I believe that Marghera is facing two main challenges. On the one hand, the capacity to make the industrial economy sustainable, without creating more damage; for example, by promoting the conversion of chemistry into green chemistry, the conversion of petrochemicals into so-called "organic petrochemistry" and the use of recyclable raw materials. Marghera could become one of the capitals of this transformation: a great part of the area has already been reclaimed and another considerably demolished. There is still a lot of work to do but what is missing the most is a project idea. In that sense, the challenge is to successfully build an industry that respects bodies and nature.

The other challenge, on the other hand, is to overcome the ethnicisation of rights, which is the challenge of multiculturalism. Foreigners have always worked in Marghera: first they lived in the countryside, then in the South, and now all over the world. There are 67 different nationalities there and the goal is to guarantee the equality of rights for all.

The film presents a microcosm of various characters, Italians and foreigners, who live in the pulsating heart of the Laguna. How did you select the subjects?
Instinctively! I did what us documentary filmmakers do: we ask to enter the premises and to stay for an unusually long period of time. I thank Eni for giving me a chance that is rare given the high security measures in place. In Marghera, I spent what I call the officially “useless” time: by useless, I mean the time that is not planned and unpredictable, the time spent waiting to find the right subjects. I could feel that, behind those eyes, there was something interesting to tell. The fundamental thing was that they shouldn’t be important witnesses of the story of Marghera, but that they were very normal human beings. This is the cinema I like the most: the one that tells about people who do not seem exceptional at first, but in whom you can find exceptional elements.

How long was this “useless” time?
We wandered through Marghera from February to November 2018, with a more intense period between May and June, when we stayed there for a month.

What were some cinematic references that guided your directing?
The film inscribes itself in the tradition of the narrative documentary, from Da Seta to Rosi: it’s a cinema that gets involved, that listens, that seeks to understand a lot. This is my first film in which I attempted an entirely narrative direction, or where the characters act and do not simply talk: without interviews, so to speak. Moreover, in the last few years, the narrative documentary has reached incredible heights in Italy. But I thought: in the past, Italian cinema was very interested in the industrial world — just think of Olmi, De Seta, Ferrara — but today, during the rebirth of the documentary, no one cares? There seems to have been the same dismissal I mentioned earlier, and so I decided to talk about this reality.

Can you give us any hints about your new projects?
I continue to keep this connection between fiction and documentary alive, weaving them together more and more. I’ve written a script set in Giudecca about the transformation of the city of Venice, caused in part by the flow of tourists. We should be able to shoot the project soon, in early 2020, I believe.

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(Translated from Italian)

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