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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.

 

Alberto Sironi

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.

Does he 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.

Will Montalbano ever marry Livia?

No, he will never marry her.

«I would like to tell Umbria how Fellini did with his land in Amarcord»

Raffaella Covino receives the award at the Worldfest of Houston

 

«I’m all yours!» our chat begins in this way. Raffaella Covino, a director from Perugia, with his first work Dammi una mano, conquered the world, collecting 17 awards in Europe and America. A movie entirely produced in Umbria – between Perugia and Assisi – a movie on women, which has the lightness of comedy, but, for the issues it faces and for its narrative structure, is more akin to a noir.
Caterina is a young and successful psychologist. Her life is perfect: love, work, family, friendships are all she wants. But when her father dies leaving her full of debts and a boondocks scandal spoils her reputation, she loses her job and her husband leaves her. For the first time, Caterina is thus starting all over again to reinvent and rebuild her life. Raffaella talks about the land where she set the movie. About her land.

First of all: what is your bond with Umbria?

I was born in Perugia and I have always lived in this city. I have a close bond with this land and I always try to enhance its beauty, also welcoming the strangers who visit it.

Behind the camera, how would you represent this region?

It is a beautiful land, but not much represented on movies. I would show it without distorting its landscape and its potential. Umbria is a hymn to beauty and is an extraordinary location for any film.

Your film has won prizes and awards all over the world: which one are you most proud of?

The film has collected 20 selections and 17 awards. I am certainly very proud of the Special Jury Award at the 51st edition of the Worldfest in Houston. In this festival there were also Steven Spielberg, David Lynch and Oliver Stone. Americans have enjoyed the film and laughed a lot and I have already anticipated that they want to organize the world premiere of my next work. I’m also proud of the 4 nominations at the Nice IFF, the Nice International Film Festival, and the launch pad at the Italian Film Festival in Miami: Dammi una mano was presented next to Non essere cattivo and Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot, receiving many compliments from other directors. When this happens, you begin to realize that you can do it, that you are doing a good job.

How would you describe the movie with a sentence?

It’s a pretty and complete comedy. It has a consistency in history and makes people laugh. It makes you laugh not with the gags, but thanks to the characters’ features and their dialogues. They all laughed, especially Americans and French: they love Italian comedies.

 

In the film tells a boondocks scandal that has serious consequences on the protagonist: do you believe Perugia is still such a provincial city, or did you exaggerate?

I absolutely did not overstate, I told everything as it is, with a lot of realism. A small reality has its merits and its faults: it has the advantage of being a protected place in which everyone knows each other, but has the defect of chatter. A little like what happens to Caterina (Ilaria Falini), the protagonist, that a boondocks scandal spoils her reputation and makes her loose her job and her husband.

Tell us how a film is made without a budget, without a mega production behind it.

The film was produced by Each Frame in collaboration with Promovideo and Sound Studio Service, and realized thanks to crowdfunding and the participation of many Umbrians. In three years I managed to bring together Umbrian professionalism at the national level – two in all, Promovideo and Sound Studio Service, which materially produced and co-produced the film – actors, costume designers, set designers and communicators. Subjects who have freely gave their skills to create a quality film experiment from below, also designed to convey the beauty of Umbria – true co-stars of the film – outside the region. In short, we threw ourselves and we said: «Let’s see where we can get».
There was a path that I followed step by step: from the first crowdfunding, with which the € 5,000 needed to start work was collected, with the slogan «buy the ticket for the film that does not exist»; to the realization up to the distribution that, thanks to word of mouth, is filling the rooms. In Houston he also entered the American and Canadian distribution circuits, starting from the American circuit of Amazon prime, where it is already available. Everything must work in a film … and everything worked out. Being a first work is not perfect, but that’s okay!

What are your next projects?

I am thinking of a new movie, which will have higher expectations. We need funding and why not, even the intervention of the institutions. Moreover, on June 11th at Frontone Gardens in Perugia, we are going to celebrate all the awards won by Dammi una mano. We will also show the movie.

If Umbria was a film, how would it represent it?

I would like to describe Umbria as Federico Fellini represented his land in Amarcord or as Paolo Sorrentino brought Rome to La Grande Bellezza on the big screen. Tell a story and tell stories about the charm and beauty of a city.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Green, sunny and beautiful.

The first thing that comes to mind thinking of this region…

I often think of the beauty of the historical centers of the different cities of the region and I try to look at them through the eyes of a foreigner who sees them for the first time. They can appreciate what we have, which is often taken for granted.