Andrea de Fusco is an Italian photographer, filmmaker and visual artist. His full-length documentary In Aquis Fundata premiered at the Rome Independent Film Festival, Bellaria and DocUnder30.
In an exclusive interview with Filmatique, de Fusco discusses capturing the real face of Venice, the city's relation to water, immersion through sound design and his next project.
FILMATIQUE: InAquis Fundata chronicles the daily lives of five Venetians whose livelihoods depend on their proximity and relationship to water. What motivated you to document this alternative Venice, far from the swarms of tourists that populate the city?
ANDREA DE FUSCO: The Venice that I represented isn't supposed to be an alternative Venice. It should be the city itself. The city of Venice is dying and I wanted to show some of the last real inhabitants. The main characters of the documentary perpetuate the craftsmanship of their ancestors. Their jobs depend on water because the richness of the city itself came from the water— from food to commerce from war to handicraft. There is no other place in the world where a relationship with water has been as strong.
But the blood that flows in the urban body of a city is made by its inhabitants. Without them the city is just a dead body. A theme park. And that's exactly what is happening today.
While growing up in Venice I've been part of a unique lifestyle and I wanted to document part of it.
FLMTQ: The film's protagonists live at the margins of society, a liminal existence on the verge of vanishing. What hope do you see for the preservation for their traditions, these particular ways of life that have persisted since the founding of the Venetian empire?
ADF: First of all there should be a control of the tourist flow. But the city's politics should also help Venetians to take control of their city again. Today houses are sold to rich foreigners that show up just once or twice a year, or are rented short-term. There are more and more shops selling junk food and souvenirs while it is becoming hard to find bread or newspapers. Having a boat is also becoming really difficult for a Venetian. The city is changing to facilitate tourism but against the inhabitants' wellbeing. As one of the characters of the film says "the city has sold itself like a prostitute."
FLMTQ: In addition to a surfeit of underwater photography, the film's sound design immerses the spectator in an enhanced sensorial realm. What cinematographic techniques did you seek to harness in service of communicating the film's aqueous landscape?
ADF: It's very hard to represent Venice while avoiding clichés. The film shows mainly a marginal Venice, something different from the postcard. But when I had to film the city itself I chose to show it 'through' water by filming its reflections in the canals and thus inverting the image. That gives an unreal effect and a greenish lagoon tone to the image.
The only moment when we see an easily recognizable place is the finale scene in Piazza San Marco, but I filmed it in a moment of acqua alta, or very high tide and from an underwater point of view.
Regarding sound design and editing I worked with Yakamoto Kotzuga and Alessandro Marinelli. We used muffled filters on recorded sounds to give an impression of immersion.
FLMTQ: Are you working on any new projects, and if so, can you tell us a bit about them?
ADF: Right now I am editing an experimental documentary with the footage I shot in two different trips in the Himalayas. I'm also turning toward fictional cinema for the first time— I just finished writing a short movie and I started to write a feature that might be linked to Venice as well.
Interview by Ursula Grisham Head Curator, Filmatique