FLMTQ: There's an interesting contrast between these interviews and the performance sequences, narrated often via voice-over and in wider compositions— the main character (you, Eleonora) suspended in an empty space, sleeping inside a bed in the middle of a sidewalk, standing on the beach, etc. There is an isolated, almost disembodied atmosphere to these sequences that does not correlate with the other interviews. Did you consciously seek to portray the artist as isolated— as separate, alienated— or do these sequences hold a different performative meaning?
ED: I interpreted the character of Anima in Pena (a soul in pain; figuratively, a tortured soul) myself as it was easier given the tremendous amount of work it would require. It's a symbolic character. The film was shot in three steps, and the role of Anima in Pena was the last one to be included, partially built on the material I already had.
This character is in limbo, between the certainties imposed by society and the fact that we can't accept them. She can't pick a side. She is neither a positive nor a negative character, but fundamental because her conflict is unique compared to the other people in the film who are so sure of things. The bed is a form of protest, and the pajamas. It's like being a kid in your bedroom with no responsibility whatsoever.
Many people, especially young people, have written to me saying they recognized themselves in Anima in Pena: the one beating herself up on the beach. I interpret two characters in the film. On one side I'm the invisible director who asks questions, provokes and listens; on the other side I'm the artist living the crisis— Anima in Pena, sidetracking and creating trouble in the shadows, unseen by most.
FLMTQ: At a certain point the subjects of your interview become integrated in the performance sequences. Do you believe that art, and performance, is transformative in nature? If so, how?
ED: Art to me doesn't have meaning in terms of value, but in terms of possibilities. Nothing makes me feel so in contact with reality as when I stand in front of and connect with a piece of art. This idea of art is a guide in my work, a sort of agony that leads me towards what I truly desire. Things that are very much mine, but that I hope can touch people the same way they touch me.
You should never get attached to what you create. Never. Art should not have psychological impact, but rather strive to impact people physically and emotionally.
It's fundamental for me when I write or I act, or a shoot a film, to have visual references, and for this film it was the great Giorgio de Chirico. I wanted to take out everything that was current, present, contemporary— it's very hard when you shoot on the street because the stores and their signs are already fake. That's why I dressed some kids from the Roman suburbs like ancient Greeks. Or had people break eggs, eat bread, or whistle like I did with the farmers from Terracina. That's why I dressed my father and his caretaker like astronauts. It wasn't to surprise or to shock people, but rather because that's what I felt from their subconscious once I felt connected with them.
We had a lot of material, about 35 hours! It was very hard to find a film in there especially since we didn't have much in the way of a script. Marco Tecce's help was vital in this process. He is my closest collaborator— coming from video art, he knows my journey and it was him who built our editing structure. Thanks to Marco, N-Capace found its own legs which are taking it many places.
And Markus Acher from The Notwist who composed such potent music by glancing at small sequences I'd send him from time to time. Markus has put out a vinyl version of the soundtrack with my dad and the caretaker dressed like astronauts.