Billo: From Dakar to Rome on a low budget
The first co-production between Italy and Senegal, Billo: Il Grand Dakhaar is the second feature by Laura Muscardin (after the much acclaimed but little see Days). In making the film she used The Coproducers method, which Eros Puglielli experimented with in his AD Project: 42 members of the cast and crew worked in exchange for a share of the distribution gross of the film, thus allowing the budget to be lowered from €600,000 to €100,000.
The Senegalese funds were guaranteed by the star of world music, Youssou N'Dour, who was originally involved only as the film’s soundtrack composer.
Inspired by the true story of protagonist Thierno Thiam, who arrives illegally in Rome with the dream of becoming a fashion designer (he quickly became a famous face on TV, which is not mentioned in the film), Billo looks at immigration and cultural integration from a fresh perspective. "I wanted to use the tones of a fairy tale,” says the director, “and make the main character a modern-day Pinocchio dealing with a series of new trials".
The film is not a drama, but "a comedy about identity,” adds actors Marco Bonini (on of the founders of The Coproducers), "which has an open ending because it must still be written by society." Besides several non-professional actors, the cast also includes Luisa De Santis and Paolo Gasparini, the latter whom oversaw distribution as well.
After winning numerous awards abroad (from Villerupt to Syracuse), Billo: Il Grand Dakhaar is being released domestically on September 19 on five screens by Achab Film, run by Enzo Porcelli, the long-time producer of Gianni Amelio and Marco Bellocchio, among others.
(Translated from Italian)
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