Alessandro Comodin • Director of The Adventures of Gigi the Law
"The film is in a way a tribute to these typical village characters"
by Teresa Vena
- In his latest film, awarded with the festival's Special Jury Prize, the Italian filmmaker explores the boundaries between fiction and documentary
Italian director Alessandro Comodin's film The Adventures of Gigi the Law [+see also:
interview: Alessandro Comodin
film profile] has just received the Special Jury Prize in the International Competition at the Locarno Film Festival. We talked with the director about the complexity involved in finding the right details in a place and character one knows so well.
Cineuropa: Could you tell us more about the place where the film is set?
Alessandro Comodin: It's my home town, a little village in the Friuli region. I escaped from there when I was old enough and never went back. It is a place that forms a lot of my imagination. There is the garden of my grandmother in which I played a lot as a child, where I imagined a lot of stories. This garden belongs to Gigi now, my uncle. He was also always part of this garden. I started from there. It was essential to find the details inside this place I know by heart. It was quite a complex process.
How much of the real Gigi is in the protagonist Gigi?
It's difficult to say. Gigi is in life as you see him in the film. The challenge was to show as much of the Gigi I know, as many facets as possible, and my point of view on him. But of course, once you put a camera in front of someone, reality changes. We built a complicated structure of situations to create a parallel world that would feel real to Gigi. Everything that happens and that he says is real, all his colleagues are real. Only the young colleague is an actress, but the situation in which he gets a new colleague with whom he talks on the radio is also real. Gigi is a person who acts very easily in life. It is a way for him to find the right distance and to defend himself from this closed world that surrounds him. Colleagues have given him the nickname "Gigi the Law" because he does everything wrong, and to make fun of him. Gigi knows this, he is very intelligent and fine. He resembles one of these legendary characters, and the film is in a way a tribute to these typical village characters.
How did you prepare Gigi for the shoot?
Well, this is the challenge, but also the beauty of this kind of film. You can't work in the same way as for classical films. You can't follow the same hierarchies. The people in front of the camera are as important as the ones behind it. I choose my crew members very carefully. Most of them were friends from France I had already worked with. But the final exam was actually Gigi himself. I payed attention to how he reacted to the people. There was no real separation between an inner and an outer circle.
Did you want Gigi to use the Friuli accent or was this also part of the natural approach?
I didn't use it as a symbol for anything. I hate it when accents or dialects are instrumentalised in films. There is a tendency in Italian films to relate an accent to a specific character. Some accents are considered more beautiful than others. A lot of actors get dubbed. I think that language is an essential part of our identity. It is something autobiographically important for me to treat the Friuli accent as naturally as possible. I've always been given the impression that it's not possible to say something intelligent, something beautiful or serious in it. But it is my mother tongue and it's a good thing to overcome this prejudice.
Could you tell us more about the two Italian pop songs you chose?
I do not like to use a film score or any sound that underlines certain scenes of the film in order to tell the audience what it has to think. But I like to use songs that already exist and that refer to a collective imaginary. I like songs that have a link to what has been said in the scenes, I like to use them as ironic commentary. The first song is by Julio Iglesias. I first was afraid that it would be too vintage, but I saw how Gigi and his colleague started to sing along and so it's actually them who decided that it would be in the film. I think it fits the image Gigi wants to give of himself. And for the second song at the end, I just tried different songs and observed which one provoked which kind of reactions on the two characters' faces.
Did you have much more material than you finally used?
It was the first time I filmed digitally. And yes, with this new technique I had too much material at the end. I realised that real film gave me a different, more disciplined rhythm, the density of shooting is different. I had a lot of bad material that we cut.
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