EXCLUSIVE: Cinema Made In Italy Interview: A Conversation with Roberto Andò for The Confessions
Produced by Angelo Barbagallo (Dear Diary, The Son’s Room, Certified Copy), Roberto Andò’s slick mystery thriller centers on a simple monk of the Carthusian order, who shakes things up at a G8 meeting held in a luxury hotel on the Baltic Coast. After a high-ranking official is found dead in his room, it transpires that the purpose of the state treasurers’ gathering is to introduce radical economic reforms that will have irreparable destructive effects on less-developed countries in the world. Stopping them soon becomes a race against time…. The elegant mise en scène, Oscar-winning composer Nicola Piovani’s exquisite score, along with a stellar cast including Toni Servillo, Daniel Auteuil, and Connie Nielson, make for irresistible viewing.
In our exclusive interview, The Fan Carpet‘s Federica Roberti in association with The Realistic Optimist spoke to Roberto Andò…
Along with the pretty actual international political theme, in the movie you portray this elegant fight between religion and politics, which we often see reported in all the newspapers. In your film religion becomes the moral compass to the unscrupulous and ruthless politics and economy, for this reason I wanted to know if you believe that religion can become some sort of moral guide to the economy, or if they should keep away from each other?
I believe that this is a really complex matter, and I also think that the monk doesn’t precisely represent the church per se. He is part of the church, but as a monk is an eccentric religious figure, they always have been. They always keep away from the church. What was interesting to me was his humanity. He wasn’t speaking about religion, but about humanity since in Christianity, we also speak about a god that became a man. Therefore, there is the white of his robe, however, he is human. And his humanity comes from his silence and from the way in which he listens. It is this characteristic that makes him the quite trigger that destroys all certainties. So I don’t see a conflict between religion and politics because politics is inadequate, and this incompetence doesn’t allow it to gain power. What I wanted to show in the movie is that politics is just a substitute for the economy and this is why in the film the main characters are economists not politicians. They get together in an extreme situation in an isolated place, which often happens during the G8 meetings, and slowly they unveil their fragility. Something unexpected happens and they have to discover the meaning of life. They discover how inadequate they are, so much so that they are dominated by this monk who, in the end, wins the battle. So this is a movie that offer a conversation between these two realities: humanity and economy.
As you mentioned before, Silence is an essential part of the film. The economists are subjugated by it. They are afraid that the monk knows their plan and will ruin everything in the end. In The confessions, the monk reminded me of St. Francis, a man who gave up everything and devoted himself to poverty, Roberto Salus did the same and took a vote of silence. This variable, what the monk knows or doesn’t know, creates chaos and tension between the member of the G8 and even the location suggest uneasiness and isolation. How was it to bring to the screen these strong characters that in the end are destroyed by Silence?
First of all, movies come from an observation that you read or see somewhere. What I find interesting and sparked the idea for this project are the pictures that are released after these global meetings. In these photos you see all these men together in casual attires as if they want to create the illusions that during these meetings an intimate bond has been created among all the participant. However, they are completely isolated while discussing about the world. The hotel that I chose for The Confessions, hosted in the past a G8 summit and they build an iron wall to make it impossible for any protester to disrupt the summit. So in our society we have this new kind of politicians, who are isolated from the world. They are not listening to the people or working for them anymore, and we live in an era in which this situation has reached its peak. However, people are tired of it and in an attempt to overturn the situation they vote for Trump or for Brexit. What is known as populism is that desire to destroy liberal economy, which always stated that it doesn’t have any valid alternative. However, we do have alternatives to this theory and the movie wants to tell the story of the economy’s power as well as its isolation and inadequacy. In the film the main characters are humans that can’t hold the responsibilities of the choices they are making. They have to deal with their own conscience and one by one they break their fragile coalition. And it is the monk that makes it all happen by using the information that one of the leaders gave him, who revealed to him that the equation that he has could be used to completely change the world’s economy.
More often than not they seem all characters without qualms, but once they lose their leader they all seem lost and weak. What is fascinating is how it is the monk, which is the most ordinary character, the one who disrupts the equilibrium and just destroys the fragile façade built by the economists. Another aspect that is noticeable in the film is the use of three different languages, was it something that came immediately, while writing the script or was it added during the filming process?
Since I wanted to make a movie about the G8, we knew that there was going to be the issue of having to put in the film all those languages that are used in the summit. From Japan to the USA, all the most powerful countries are there and I was attracted by the idea of using actors who were able to speak different languages as well as their own. So for this reason I knew from the script that I wanted to use different languages in the film.
As a last question I wanted to know if, while writing the script, each character has a specific face or if you have an actor in mind to play them?
Usually while I’m writing all the main characters have a specific face and an actor comes to mind. However, sometimes that actor I had in mind doesn’t actually fit the character I wrote, so during the casting I chose the ones who really understand the characters and bring them to life.
CINEMA MADE IN ITALY RAN FROM MARCH 1 TIL MARCH 5 AND RETURNS TO CINÉ LUMIÈRE IN LONDON IN 2018