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It All Started Here

Marco Bellocchio, Pardo d’onore Swisscom

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Marco Bellocchio is a fighter. A 76-year-old wonder boy always anticipating his times, a revolutionary who unmasked conformism before others could even imagine to do that, fifty years ago he brought his first film, I pugni in tasca, to Locarno. To this day, the movie is still present, explosive, tearing apart.

I pugni in tasca in 2015, again in Locarno. How do you feel about it?

It’s amazing. it’s undeniable how that call from Camillo Beretta (President of Festival del film Locarno in 1965, ndr.), has been important for me and the movie. I recall the Kursaal screening, the first ever in a theater for a work of mine. A unique feeling, I can still hear the nervous and embarrassed, explosive laughter, unexpected during the screening. Many told me some scenes were so strong and unsettling, and I obviously couldn’t realize it at the time.

The movie won the Vela d’Argento. Since then, you started a long and difficult relationship with festivals. But, unlike other directors, you never quit. Why?

A festival is a very important place to face colleagues, critics, yourself and, above all, the audience. There are many different rules: for example I pugni in tasca wasn’t selected at the Venice Film festival because Chiarini wanted to award Luchino Visconti with the Golden Lion. He had never won. The Locarno people saw it, still not dubbed, and fell in love with it. I was happy for the award, even if it was the first of many second places. The important thing is to participate, but even winning is not bad. That said, I have a lot of lifetime achievement awards…

Do you consider the Pardo d’onore Swisscom a kind of compensation?

No, I was absolutely happy for that award. Maybe because of my Jesuit education I’m not a person thinking “I deserved to win”. That’s the thing: Marco Ferreri, a jury member, endorsed me while the Russian juror Čuchraj opposed my movie. Then, at the Moscow Film Festival, after many months of international successes, the movie was banned.

You always seem ahead of your times as a director. Maybe this is why some of your works were misunderstood at that time?

 It’s not on me saying that. But it’s true that I pugni in tasca anticipated the 1968 movement which identified with it. I was upset when films like Diavolo in corpo or Il regista di matrimoni were misunderstood. I am always inspired by real life in order to make films, which then are considered political or social, or revolutionary even if I make classic cinema. I never had an intellectual approach: I remember that, for I pugni in tasca, a critic was so disappointed because he asked me philosophical questions, thinking I was an Heidegger academic. He went away bewildered.

 

What does cinema represent for you today?

Image, in every form. I’m not a writer. As Astruc said, camera is my fountain pen, my way to express myself. I hope to be healthy in order to keep going, but in a lighter way. I think about Pippo Delbono, who showed Sangue here in Locarno, shot with his cell phone. We have to reflect on new ways of filming. Cinema is for me something still deeply involving. I can create only with the urgency of emotion.

The rage, the will to innovate that you put in I pugni in tasca will never let you…

Not the rage, it would be ridiculous to live it again. On the other hand, describing the issues of old age is not something appealing to me, I think nostalgia is pathetic. I prefer working with younger people, just like in Bobbio, just like my last project. I prefer the validity of future to the past.

Boris Sollazzo
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