“There is no form of art like cinema to shake the conscience, the emotions and to reach the secret rooms of the soul”. (Ingmar Bergman)
Filmmaking is an art in which the team – work is necessary. Everyone knows the actors and the director, but the most work comes from the different professionals who, employed behind the backstage, achieve the final purpose: the movie. This philosophy has inspired the Umbrians professionals who work in the world of the filmmaking, to put together their strengths, but above all, their tasks. This is the reason why the Associazione Mestieri del Cinema Umbri was established by Umbrian residents with a qualified experience in the departments of movie and in the television production. The association has among its members, collaborators and partners, over 100 people, with the common aim of developing the growth of the cinema industry in the territory of Umbria.
Backstage of the film
«Our goals are numerous: the first is the exchange of ideas. A second goal is that of enhancing a sector, that of cinema industry, which could create many job opportunities. And of course, the dialogue with the institutions, given that there is a 2016 law that should be applied to encourage the filmmaking. In Umbria there are many interesting festivals, but they are part of the distribution sector, but what we would like to focus on and to increase is the production of movies so that various professionals could be involved», explains Federico Menichelli, president of the association. «For Umbria it is a real novelty, nobody had ever thought of creating an association of this kind. Moreover, it is useful for a comparison between professionals and above all, to restart this sector in Umbria», echoes the costume designer Isabella Sensini, also a member of the group.
The Umbria Film Commission has recently been established: there are new productions and above all, there are many cinema operators forced to work outside the region: «The Umbria Film Commission can dialogue with our association and could not only welcome new production, but also create products to exported», the president continues.
Multimedia Center of Terni
The importance of unity is also supported by Alessio Rossi, casting expert: «Many of us work in Rome or in other cities and this makes Umbria lose its chances of increasing production, for avoiding that, we could create job opportunities here too. Moreover, in the entertainment world the more we are united and know each other, the more we work». Karina Y Muzzio, make up artist, is happy to be part of this group because she believes it is a great opportunity to revive the seventh local art: «Umbria is a region that offers a lot, but it is essential to create unity in order to give a real boost in this sector».
The business card presented by the Associazione Mestieri del Cinema Umbri was a short film entitled Umbria: La Rinascita, shot inside the Multimedia Center of Terni. «This is a very important structure, with two studios – one of 900 square meters and one with the green screen – that could be used for training or to attract productions from outside, also thanks to beauty of the surrounding landscape and villages. At the moment, the Municipality of Terni owns it, but it is an empty and unused place. Relaunching it would be fundamental», emphasizes Menichelli.
The short film
The short film Umbria: La Rinascita was the first step in a technical-artistic movement that, after years of silence and isolation, has Umbrian professionals in the name of mutual respect for common projects. The short film was made with the complete and total investment of all the professionals of the various departments: they participated for free to support their region of origin.
Valeria Ciangottini e Federico Menichelli
«As a good craftsman, our first step was to shoot a short film. We are very satisfied because we have reached over 23,000 views and we involved artists likes Alfiero Toppetti and Valeria Ciangottini. Everyone gave what it is possible to give. Among the participants – and it is an important sign – there is also the municipal administration of Terni. Our next step is to attract the attention of entrepreneurs and the Region, which have to achieve the same level of the more advanced national panorama. A cinema fund is necessary and productions needs to be attracted to Umbria: the strength of the region lies in the fact that, on the big screen, it does not appear so often. Here, putting together all the pieces we can do a lot», concludes Federico Menichelli.
A Lombard who lives in Umbria and tells the Sicily of Commissioner Montalbano: “In Umbria there is only the sea, but for me it is not a problem, so I can live in Sicily when I turn the series”.
Alberto Sironi was our guest, and with him we had a chat on the occasion of the Fa ‘la cosa giusta, to discover all the secrets of the most famous commissioner in Italy. The director of the record – almost twenty years behind the camera of the series with an average of 10 million viewers – was trained at the drama school of Piccolo in Milan where, under the guidance of Giorgio Strehler, he began working as an actor in small theatrical parts. In the seventies he began collaborating with Rai as a writer and director: after a series of experiences as director, at the end of the nineties he arrived Commissioner Montalbano, based on the novels written by Andrea Camilleri.
Now you live in Umbria: what is your relationship with this region?
I married a umbra and now I live here. Initially the Umbrians are a bit ‘closed – this must be said – but then when you get in confidence with them they are friendly people. I would very much like to tell a story set in this territory.
Her career began in the theater with Giorgio Strehler: how much did she use this school to make television?
In the six years I have been with Strehler, at the Piccolo in Milan, I learned a gym that facilitated my work on television; I also prefer actors who have done theater, it’s easier for me to work with them.
Tell us a secret: What does it work in this tv-series?
This success continues over time because the public loves the stories of Andrea Camilleri. Andrea tells the characters, describes the environments, tells a type of world set today, but that is actually a child of his world of many years ago. The stories thus become somewhat historical. We have removed the cars: there is no one in our films on the streets, they are deserted. Commissioner Montalbano has a car that was old since the first film came out. We have created a sort of magical world to support Camilleri’s way of narrating. This is what the audience loves. Another thing that appreciates a lot is the desire to live well with the Commissioner. Italians want to eat well, they love women and they need their friends. When the audience waits for the release of a Montalbano film, it is as if waiting to meet a friend.
Do you think the success of the series drags the literature or is it the other way around?
This is difficult to establish. Surely we have helped to sell more than normal publishing, but the character of Montalbano was already quite popular. Camilleri started writing in 1997, we started shooting a couple of years later. They are certainly two different ways, there are those who love the literary genre who the film, so it can not be established.
Montalbano is broadcast in over twenty countries around the world: did you expect all this?
When we started, nobody could imagine the success that Montalbano would have had in Italy and in the world. Today we shoot in 4K, a technically advanced system, but until a few years ago – by my choice – we were shooting in 35 millimeters: this allowed us to have a perfect product, with more definition and depth of field. In this way we have conquered the US market and beyond.
Have you ever thought about leaving the series?
I still like Montalbano, but I do not think it will last that much longer, maybe even two or three years.
Doeshe want to tell us some behind-the-scenes curiosity?
The first that comes to mind was when Belen Rodriguez arrived to shoot the episode in which she was the protagonist. There were people everywhere waiting for her: so we decided to have her arrive on the set a day late from the expected and on board an ambulance.
Barbara Petronio proudly shows theDavid di Donatello won last March for the best screenplay of the film Indivisibili directed by Edoardo De Angelis.
Born and raised in Terni, she started working as a screenwriter at a very young age, and for this reason she already boasts the writing of many TV series and successful films: from A.C.A.B. to Romanzo Criminale – la serie, from Suburra – the Distretto di Polizia series, from R.I.S. – Crimini Imperfetti to Mozzarella Stories, up to the Mostro di Firenze and Le Mani Dentro la Città. His dream in the drawer is a story about Terni.
What’s your connection with Umbria?
I was born and raised in Terni even though my family is not of Umbrian origins, but half Sicilian and for the other half a mixture of Scottish, Abruzzo and even a little Roman origins.
If Umbria was a movie, what film would it be?
The big binge.
Why this combination
I have always associated Umbria with great food.
Has it ever occurred to you to write a subject or a script on Terni or Umbria?
Yes, Umbria is full of beautiful stories, I have in the drawer a story about Terni that I would like to tell. Sometimes I take it out and I work on it in the spare time. Who knows that sooner or later it will come to an end…
From Terni to the David di Donatello: was it a long road? I read that three fundamental characters were your elementary school teacher, Roberto Benigni and the film producer Pietro Valsecchi.
Well yes, they were in three very different moments of my life. The teacher gave the opening words, made me understand the beauty of the stories and fantasy, Benigni was my first experience on a set. There I understood what it means to shoot a film, how complex it is and how much effort it requires. Valsecchi made me debut, put me in a position to work on important series when I was very young. A rarity for Italy.
A merit and a defect of the Italian cinema.
In the past, Italian cinema rhymed to originality, dramaturgical power and truth. Now it is a bit less, but sometimes come out of small jewels result of our film tradition and our imagination. The defect of the moment – I would say – repetitiveness.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Mystic, lush, strong.
The first thing that comes to mind thinking of this region. Home.
As has already happened before, but in this case, it comes from a small strip of wounded land in the heart of the “Heart of Italy”. A sprout of future for Italy and Europe.
Four documentaries, four stories about Valnerina’s rebirth. A year after the earthquake that hit central Italy, four documentaries, written, produced and realized with the Restartproject. ComunitàResistenti by MenteGlocale – permanent laboratory of social communication, based in Perugia – tell the stories of a land, the Umbrian Valnerina, which reacted to the earthquake’s material and moral damages.
Norcia, Campi, Cascia, Ruscio: the earthquake struck the populations touching them in the affections, in the habits and in the small and great security of everyday life. These mountaineers were injured but not defeated, and in some cases they were able to react to the difficulties by rolling up their sleeves. Written by Filippo Costantini, Giorgio Vicario and Daniele Suraci, who has also directed and edited the Restart project. Comunità Resistenti, it was created with the contribution of CorecomUmbria, through the 2017 Community TV competition.
The four docu-films
The four docu-films try to tell the stories of these territories, the stories little known or that few tell. People and places are the protagonists, who go beyond the earthquake and try to roll up their sleeves to start over and move on.
Born in November 2016 in Norcia, inside a field tent, the Montanari Testoni association was promoted by a group of young people from the territory to face together the adversities related to the earthquake. It was created to talk and discuss the personal and collective situation and to propose activities of participation, sharing, collaboration and cultural promotion dedicated to the inhabitants of Norcia. From a collection center for food and clothes, a real social center, the container has hosted in recent months – and continues to do so – condominium meetings, workshops for children, film clubs and much more, until the rehearsals of the famous Corale di Norcia, left without a seat, and has now become a fundamental reference point for the entire nursery community.
Sisters of Cascia
In Cascia, after the shock of October 30th, 2016, several buildings became unusable, but except for a few cases there were no collapses. For security reasons, for the first time in the history of Cascia the Basilica of Santa Rita was closed and the Augustinian cloistered nuns had to leave the monastery, returning after a few weeks. They tell the life in the Cloistered Monastery of the Sisters of Cascia and the relationship between the Casciani and Saint Rita: in a Cascia hit by the earthquake the icon of the Saint is a concrete presence of hope for the future.
Ruscio is a small fraction of the Municipality of Monteleone di Spoleto composed by two-storey houses, historical buildings, three churches, two squares, a bridge and many fountains. The village develops along a single road cut by a bridge that divides Ruscio above from Ruscio below. The fraction, where there are permanently seventy people, has not suffered much damage. The material signs of the recent earthquakes are there, but they are not very strong: the most evident damages are in people and are linked to the fear of depopulation, to the fear that at least for a few years it will no longer be the same. Every year in the summer the rusciari scattered in the world return to the small Umbrian village to spend their holidays, repopulating houses that for most of the year are carefully guarded by the few stable inhabitants of the country. On August 24th the traditional Rusciari Dinner is celebrated, an indispensable moment to say goodbye before returning to their places of residence. In 2016, due to the earthquake, the dinner was canceled.
Back to Campi is the dream of Roberto Doctormonster Sbriccoli, bricklayer-dj of Campi, a fraction of the Municipality of Norcia strongly affected by the shocks of 2016. The upper part of the village is red zone, all the houses are unusable, and several are collapsed. Between the upper and lower parts of the village stands the headquarters of the Pro Loco, a structure inaugurated just four days before the earthquake of August 24th, 2016 and built by the inhabitants of Campi – ed by Doctormonster. A class four anti-seismic structure that was immediately used as an emergency reception center. In the weeks following the shock, it hosted up to ninety people, proving to be fundamental for shelter and assistance. Animator and coordinator of the space was Docmonster, who is also the president of the Pro Loco. These were difficult days, full of discouragement and nervousness, but that place was fundamental. Today many of the inhabitants of Campi live in the newly delivered containers and wooden houses. Docmonster has a dream called Back to Field, a € 4 million project that aims to build a multi-purpose center for tourism and sport on a newly acquired site by Pro Loco. It is a project that aims to provide a complete and equipped with all the services to those who will be on vacation in the summer (before the earthquake many people choose this place for summer holidays) in these areas and has the ambition to be a multi-purpose center for pre-season retreats of the teams of different sports. Docmonster took it upon himself to realize this project.
«When I arrive in Citerna, I wonder why I came. Then, after a couple of days, I resume the human rhythm of these places and I would not leave anymore.»
Journalist, television and radio author for Rai and La7, editor for Stream and film director for Tele +, everything driven by a single passion: cinema. Alessandro Boschi, born in Città di Castello, often returns to these places torediscover the human dimension that this land can give.
What’s your connection with Umbria, considering you have been living in another region for a while?
Surely it is a register bond, since I was born in Città di Castello and grown in Citerna. In Umbria I have my family and memories related to my childhood. I often go back, especially to find a more human dimension. In Rome or Milan we lose these rhythms, everything is more frenetic, but my job has led me to forcedly leave Umbria.
You deal with cinema: do you think Umbria is well exploited in this area or should it be strengthened?
It is not badly exploited, but in Umbria it would serve a mapping of all the activities related to the cinema because, while being small, it has different ones and very interesting: I think of the cinema festivals, such as the Cdcinema in Città di Castello, of which I am the president, or Umbria Film Festival in Montone. They need structures that would organize and connect to each other all the small realities related to this world. Finally, the Film Commission should be restructured and have a greater power, as has in other regions.
As radio and television programs author, if Umbria was your program how would you enhance it?
Umbria has identified and well exploited its vocation – I think of the religious one. However, it would need external contaminations. Let me explain it better: we would keep our traditions, but they would have to be guided by someone coming from outside, to take away that provincialism that does not allow that real jump of quality that Umbria deserves. The region has to open up more and accept external contamination, which can only make it grow and improve.
Have you ever felt that Umbrian stereotype of being narrow-minded, or did someone make it notice to you?
Of course it exists, but no one has never make it notice to me. Perugia is even more closed: when I was in the college – I’ve been here for little time – I did very little friendship with people from Perugia. Umbria, unfortunately, has no mental openings, is an anachronistic reality. It needs social legitimation and it is necessary to open up our eyes as soon as possible and integrate.
Three words to describe Umbria…
Appetizing, quiet and introverted.
The first thing that comes to mind thinking about this region …
I think about the map. The fact that Umbria is the only Italian region that has no outlets, either on the sea or on other countries, that it is closed and surrounded by other regions. Perhaps its closure can also come from this.