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Ermanno Olmi

Olmi’s gentleman pirates


- Lots of pirates, but little swashbuckling in Cantando dietro i paraventi. The film continues the theme of peace developed in The profession of arms

Ermanno Olmi


"We are honest outlaws", says the female pirate to her crew in Cantando dietro i paraventi [+see also:
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. The leading character in Olmi’s new film, at the head of a pirate fleet which rules the China seas, holds loyalty as the most important value in her code of honour. "It is a quality that the governors of the world have always lacked” the director explains, “those men who have always imposed, or tried to safeguard, their power through false laws". Olmi uses a fairy story in an exotic setting, beyond time and space, to convey his message of peace and protest: “The powerful should be capable of forgiveness. If every now and again, we used kind gestures before weapons, we would surely get better results”. This is what happens in his film, which will be released on Friday 24th October, in about 100 prints.

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The pirate Ching, widow of a pirate captain, creates havoc on the Eastern coasts, leading her crew in raids and bloody fights, until she has to face the Emperor’s entire fleet. A “kind gesture” from the most powerful of men, at the moment of the mismatched encounter, provokes a brave and wise reaction in Ching, who manages to lead her crew to safety and save them from certain death.

There is not much cannon fire nor boarding of ships in the film, but there are many kites flying in a sign of peace. Cantando dietro i paraventi is certainly an unusual pirate film, Olmi uses it to continue his development of the themes he proposed in The profession of arms , a film about the first Western war where gunpowder was used. “In this film the cannon has grown up”, explains Olmi. “My earlier film ended with the hopeful wish that heavy artillery would no longer be used. But this is not what happened. On the contrary, increasingly powerful cannons are being built.” br>
Commented with oriental sounding music, and set in the China seas sometime in the 1700’s, the film was actually shot on a lake in Montenegro. “I wanted to evoke China through the music and the countryside,” says Olmi, “not necessarily the real China, but the China that we westerners imagine.” An international co-production, driven by Mikado and RAI Cinema, brought Cantando dietro ai paraventi a budget of Euro 10M. The participation of American co-producers, Lakeshore and Miramax, who has the distribution rights for the United States, ensures that the film will be seen on the other side of the ocean.

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