For Stop The Pounding Heart, his previous feature film selected for the Special Screenings in 2013, Roberto Minervini lived amongst a very pious and remote community in Texas, mingling with rodeo lovers, in order to tell the story of Sara. Half documentary, half fiction, the director gave us a true "observation" of this American backwater in The Other Side.
Film photo © DR
Where did you get the idea of making this film?
In 2013, I began my travels in West Monroe, in Louisiana, to meet the estranged family of Todd Trichell, the father of the young rodeo rider who featured in Stop The Pounding Heart. Todd had managed to escape the poverty and violence of North Louisiana when he was young and had ended up in Texas, the healthiest of the states bordering Louisiana. His family, on the other hand, were still in West Monroe and daily life was a real struggle. What started out as a simple explanation of Todd's roots soon turned into a two-year journey through the hidden underbelly of America.
How do you see the shooting process?
My shoots are always enjoyable. Because they take place in restrictive circumstances and environments, I need to know that the team are all having a good time. I attach a great deal of importance to downtime – during which we play football or go fishing – and I like my working days to be short. This laid-back approach is crucial when you're shooting a documentary and working with non-professional actors. However, when the cameras start to roll, the takes are often physically and mentally intense..
A word about your actors?
I only worked with actors for my first two films: The Passage and Low Tide. I mixed them with non-professionals. Since then I've only worked with the latter. There is something extraordinary about the instinctive and visceral performance of ordinary people. And this extraordinary thing is called the truth.
What you think about the film industry in your country?
As an Italian living in the United States. I see two completely different trends at work. In the United States, independent cinema is virtually comatose, whereas it's flourishing in Italy. Italy has some extremely talented directors.
What inspires you?
I draw most of my inspiration from photography and photojournalism in particular, from people like David Turnley, Jim Goldberg, William Gedney and Mike Brodie, to name but a few. The directors I admire most include Ozualdo Candeias and Allan King.
Thursday 21 May / Debussy Theatre / 2 pm and 10 pm
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