Two teenagers, forced together in an abandoned building in Naples, form a fragile relationship whilst awaiting their fate.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
One of two Italian films in this year’s LFF that has its origins in a documentary and impressively uses real-life participants from the first film as its protagonists. Essentially, it’s an entrancing two-hander about a girl being held captive in an abandoned building in Naples, one bright summer’s day, being watched over by her unwilling guard, a boy who is a local ice-cream seller pressed into service, while they wait for the local Camorra chief to arrive. There are certainly nods to Gomorrah (unsurprising, since one of the screenwriters of this also worked on that film) but this is a very different story, that delicately traces the fragile beginning of a relationship, as the teenagers haltingly break down the barriers of mistrust and start to share confidences, common experiences and tentative hopes. The Interval is a little gem, nicely shot on its modest budget, with likeably naturalistic performances: a confident directorial debut.
The Interval is my first fictional feature film; up till now I had only made documentaries, but my approach to this project has been with the same curiosity towards reality and the unlimited inspiration it can give, and with the same faith in its endless narrative possibilities. Therefore, in this movie as in any documentary, I began by observing and listening. Together with Maurizio Braucci and Mariangela Barbanente, the two screenwriters, we went to meet and be around teenagers, going to the places were they hang out, talking with them. When we began writing, we immediately knew that we would have to leave enough space in the screenplay for the actors to create their own characters and back stories; we thought of the script as a sort of canvas for the plot, precise, but open enough for the characters. Even if the film was supposed to be acted in Neapolitan dialect, the screenplay was written in Italian, so that the actors – when preparing for the role – would have to translate it and make it their own. To make this possible, from the beginning I decided the two main actors would have to be amateurs. Preparing and finding the actors took a long time. Through schools and various teachers, I met around 200 teenagers from the working-class district of Naples and, with the help of Antonio Calone and Alessandra Cutolo, I chose a dozen, more or less six couples of possible leading actors for the movie. We worked with them for over three months without even touching the screenplay. It came out to be a great group, and we were sad that some candidates would have to be excluded from the final choice. We talked with the teenagers about it often, but they would all answer that this was an important and fun experience, whatever the outcome. Only when the choice came down to two couples did we start working on the script. In this phase we also translated the dialogues into Neapolitan, incorporating the suggestions made by the actors, who I believe enriched them and made them more faithful to their world. During this long laboratory our job wasn't only to find the best actors or the ones with the best chemistry between them, but also to identify the ones who would be able to bear the responsibility of working on a movie, and in the first days of shooting I was afraid that one of them might give up. Instead, Francesca and Alessio shone for both commitment and willingness. When filming, we wanted the camera to keep the whole process as discreet as possible to give the actors as much freedom as possible. With Luca Bigazzi we decided to film without any added lighting, except for some shots at night, and with a shoulder-mounted camera, to better adapt to the way the actors would interact with the location; we also opted to film on super-16, because of its ability to absorb the strong contrasts between interior and exterior lighting. All this to tell a story about teenagers, where adults are absent, and are considered a menace or harbingers of laws and customs that must be followed. Here in the south, the laws are those of the Camorra, which tempts and threatens, and with which anyone must come to terms, in one form or another, when choosing to live in this city.
Born in Ischia, he now lives alternately in Paris and Naples. He teaches at the famous Ateliers Varan in Paris and has directed a number of well-received documentaries. Prove di stato takes place in Ercolano, focusing on three years in the life of the mayor, a young left-wing woman elected after the whole of the previous administration had been arrested for working with the Camorra; while A scuola documented a year of the life of a middle-school class in the suburbs of Naples. Two of its main teenage protagonists have been the principal inspiration behind The Interval.
1998 Prove di stato [TV doc]
Enjoy a world of benefits with BFI Cinema Membership.
Follow the BFI London Film Festival live blog.