Interview with Filmmaker Stefano Mazzotta (ELEGY OF LOST THINGS)

ELEGY OF LOST THINGS was the winner of BEST FILM at the March 2022 Experimental Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

When I met the work of Raul Brandao, from which the film is based, I immediately fell madly in love with his story. The sad and disarming beauty of its characters and landscapes could not be “limited” to a live performance but also had to pass through the cinematic image. Photographic investigation is always part of my creative process and here photography finally came to life, becoming image in motion!

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

The entire creative process lasted two years. Most of the time of these two years has been devoted to imagining, reading, designing. At a certain point the work moved in our theatre stage to achieve the live performance. During this construction process, the company and I went through two intense periods of artistic residencies in the beautiful territory of Sardinia Island. Here our rehearsals for the live performance turned into the set of the film for one month.

How would you describe your film in two words!

There are so many words for me in it! Can I answer with two images? The past under my feet, the future beyond my head. I tried to give a different space to the relationship with time, with lost things and with the desires that can be realized in a future. We are used to thinking about past as something that dies behind us. Instead everything that has been, including the lost things, I feel it under my feet, it is what lifts me up. The future, so mysterious and unknown, is a desire that lives beyond the clouds, precious because it cannot be reached except through a loss of balance and a jump (or a fall?) … as in a waltz.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The post-production part was the biggest challenge. I had to be able to bring the narrative through only images, sounds and bodies, intertwining figures of lonely but connected characters, without a single word. I wanted to be meaningful and that every action clearly accompany the allegories of Brandao’s novel. This is why I built the entire creative process by making great use of personal writing, urging all the interpreters to find the themes of the project in themselves and in their own lives. The intent was to nourish their presence and make every little movement and glance meaningful for them and so, hopefully, for the audience!

What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Seeing and hearing the reactions to the vision of my film filled me with emotion and happiness. I do not hide that I cried. My great desire as a choreographer and film maker is always to be able to communicate in the easiest and most direct way possible, going through both reason and emotions. So hearing, through the comments of the audience, words that profoundly concern this project (and me) and what I wish to communicate through it, is the greatest satisfaction that I can feel. I believe that honesty and the ability to use artistic language to exactly match our communicative intentions are the greatest responsibilities for every artist.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

My two great passions are, since I was 11, dancetheatre and photography. I consider them both my favourite languages in the reading and restitution of reality, because they both ask for synthesis, clarity and substance and finally in a single shot or in a single movement they have the power to narrate the infinite! Video is the territory where for me these two languages happily meet to become a tool with an incredible communicative and emotional potential.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I am definitely eclectic in this. I love all genres of films and I really appreciate those with a particular attention to photography and small stories. Evidently the greatest master I look to is Federico Fellini!!! I love the poetics of the italian directors Matteo Garrone and Emanuele Crialese. At the same time, I really like the horror and scifi too !

What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

It has been a great pleasure and honor for me to participate in your festival. I find that the form in which you weigh the works is brilliant! Above all, I find fantastic that you give feedback to the works that comes from people of all kinds, even and above all “common/ordinary” people. This is the kind of audience with which art should always measure itself and dialogue!

You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Filmfreeway is a brilliant platform! It works perfectly, creates relationships, enhances the works. It would be nice if the theatrical environment were also inspired by this so effective system!

What is your favorite meal?

Can I name two? Definitely pasta with tomato sauce, then Ice cream!

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m working on a new project inspired by Jose Saramago’s “The Tale of the Unknown Island”. I am still at the beginning of the journey but I already feel the same love that I felt for Brandao. Both are Portuguese authors, both bring the colors and temperatures of the South in their poetics. Probably this is, among all, the element that fascinates me the most because, being myself born and raised in the south of Italy, a stone’s throw from the sea, I feel this poetic very close to me. I seem to discover and tell something about myself through the relation with these great authors and poets.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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