The South Tyrolean/Austrian filmmaking duo tell an odd story set in the farthest outskirts of the city of Rome, which looks so distant, and almost a mirage. The film is set in a world suspended between a luminous past and a shadowy present, a place where fiction that almost seems real and characters are made more believable by clever writing.
Your film is a fiction story, though filmed in documentary style. It is a believable story that is born of disillusionment and the conflict between good and evil, but in the end, everyone comes out defeated. How would you describe your movie?
You have already summed it up perfectly – in the end they are all defeated. However, we try to look more closely at the question of good and evil: on the one hand there is Daniel, who cannot escape the cycle of poverty and whose greatest dream is to save his son from the same fate, and on the other side, there is Vera, who tries to find love and recognition regardless of financial wealth and social status. In our film, we try to find out whether and how these two different lives fit together.
Why did you choose Vera Gemma, what does a person this fragile, this different from what she appears, represent for you, and what of her struck you so strongly that you made her the protagonist of your film?
Vera is ruthlessly honest with herself and the world, she knows the harshness of life in all its facets, she has a beautiful voice, and she is, because of her many contradictions, an incredibly captivating personality. When we started looking behind her façade, a whole new world opened. The fact that a person is completely different from what she looks like is a very important quality for a leading actress, because she should never be quickly understood and captured, lest she loses her charming power.
The city of Rome in the background sometimes looks kitsch and tacky, definitely not welcoming, with the exception of the cosy Trastevere neighbourhood, where it looks like there’s some sort of order and tidiness. Rome almost looks like an evil stepmother that eats away any idea of beauty. How were you able to keep the spotlight on the several characters without resorting to the stereotypical usage of surrounding beauty to contrast moral decay?
In our movies, the environment always has the purpose to understand the protagonists’ performances better. All our protagonists live exactly in the neighbourhoods we show, they have internalized the walk, the language, and even the colours of their neighbourhood. Since our actors always play themselves, they can be most authentic in their familiar environment.
Is it hard to merge two lines of thought into one filmmaking action?
No, because we have been working together for many years, and the reason for this is that we see more advantages in it than disadvantages. We never get in each other’s way, we like to use each other’s talent and opinion – it’s an enrichment, not a threat. At the moment of shooting, there is only one goal for us, to stage the action as credibly as possible. This applies to both of us, and just as much to the actresses and actors and everyone else involved. In this respect, more than two lines of thought come together in a cinematic action, which means that the result always remains open and it always surprises us. This process makes our work very exciting, because a lot of unforeseen things can arise.