Gianfranco Pannone: I Know Iran by Its Cinema
24 Dec 2018 - 12:33
Italian Documentary Filmmaker and jury member of Rome Film Festival, Gianfranco Pannone, is a one of the guests in the 12th Iran International Documentary Film Festival "Cinema Verite". He has traveled to Tehran to show his latest documentary, Za World and hold the Dramaturgy in Documentary Workshop. "I know Iranian cinema very well and I often show movies by great Iranian filmmakers" he said.
About the trip to Tehran he said: "This is the first time I come to Iran. I had not seen Tehran until now, but through my friend, Babak Karimi, I have a long relationship with Iran and its cinema. That’s the same way I got to know Iranian cinema and Kiarostami. Also, when I was teaching at the University of Rome, I had several Iranian students. I must say that though I have not been in Iran before, I know Iran well. I like Iraninan culture, cinema, and music very much. I came to Iran with the invitation of the Cinema Verite Film Festival. I'm glad I’m here with my latest film and I can talk to the Iranian people about documentaries.”
About Za World, Pannone said: “This film begins with Cesare Zavattini but is not generally about him. I started from Zavattini and entered the world where is his cultural background; a village the Northern Italy where he was born. Luzzara was an agricultural province, with many artistic movements originated there; a city was full of painters, poets, and revolutionaries. Zavattini was a revolutionary too. He was one of the pioneers of Italian Neorealism. Neorealism gave so much energy to the world’s cinema by putting humans and everyday life in its center. This is exactly the stick that connects Italian Neorealist cinema and Iranian cinema.”
He continued: "What I narrate in my film is a village, its past and future. We begin the film with an interesting words that Zavattini used to repeat. 'If we look at the reality carefully and lovingly, we can go beyond imagination and fantasy,' he said. I went to Luzzara and tried to follow the signs remained from Zavattini. I'm waiting to see what the audience says here and see through them if I managed to do what I was looking for or not. What I want to bring out with this film is attention and love in Zavattini’s look to the world around him. Although he used to write fictional screenplays, he had a realistic view and concern that was closer to the documentary. For Zavattini, the face of a peasant was much more important than the face of an actor.
The Italian filmmaker continued: "The shooting of this documentary took a year and a half, because I wanted to narrate all four seasons. Shooting took place between 2016 and 2017 and the film was released in 2018. For those who saw the film in Italy, it was very interesting and different. The audience commonly said they have discovered a character whoes importance was forgotten. In today's world, we have hectic days that often take us to oblivion. We forget that we had good things in the past, things that we now have lost. An interesting reaction of Italian audiences was that many young people discovered the Zavattini through the film and tried to find out more about him. Another interesting thing about the film is a young man from Ghana who starts rap music with Zavathini lyrics. It’s fascinating that many young Italians do not know the Zavathini, but a young man from Ghana does. This man made the Italian young generation get closer to Zavattini, and not to consider him just an old man of the past generation who made some good movies.”
About his knowledge of Iranian cinema, Pannone also reminded: “I know Iranian cinema very well and I often show movies by great Iranian filmmakers. I introduced Kiarostami and Farhadi. I like Kiarostami’s view to the world around him. I have no doubt that a movie as Close-Up is one of top five films in the world in the past 50 years. The interesting thing is that every time I see this movie with my students, in the end, my eyes shed tears. These are exactly the same tears that I experience at the end of Umberto D. by Vittorio De Sica. I also love Farhadi's cinema because it brought the urban middle-class to the cinema’s central scene. He placed women at the center of attention. Farhadi is a very modern director. The Salesman was also very beautiful. In the case of Iranian documentary cinema, I must say that it is very interesting.”
"I work for the Mediterranean Film Festival, which takes place annually in Rome," he said about the activities of his festivals. “We usually show a documentary and a narrative Iranian film each year at that festival. We usually select films from other festivals. Of course, some colleagues send us films to consider. They send films from the Berlin Film Festival, Cinéma du Réel and other European festivals. We select 10 films around 70. I am a member of the selection committee. Of course, most of my work is in the documentaries. I have been working on this festival for almost 9 years now. Of course, my job at this festival is a side-job, and my work is primarily filmmaking and teaching. I try to gain peace by making myself busy doing different things.”
Story Code: 4136