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Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis • Directors

“We believe in a cinema of omission”


- With Il Solengo, Italian filmmakers Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis are already consolidating a very smart stance on what non-fiction filmmaking should be

Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis  • Directors
Directors Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis

Born out of a previous documentary about panther sightings in Tuscia, Il Solengo [+see also:
interview: Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matt…
film profile
sees the directorial duo Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis revisit the same community as before, as take another look into one of its stories. Shrouded in mystery, this time they focus on the impact which hermit Mario de Marcella has had on his community; and these directors clearly demonstrate their interesting vision of cinema with this film, screened at the recent International Film Festival Rotterdam.

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Cineuropa: Your film often focuses on rumour or hypotheses, were you challenging the belief that documentaries should be exclusively factual?
Alessio Rigo de Righi:
Yeah, we really weren’t interested in trying to arrive at this kind of “truth” of the story. We were much more interested in exploring the memory of the people who were telling us the story.
Matteo Zoppis: It was very much about trying to create a movie about words, where the words not only shape the film’s structure but also its images. Often the words in the film drive the images. But we also believe that you don’t have to see everything that is mentioned, because we believe in a cinema of omission. Not everything should have to be shown or told.

There is also a real omission of your voices in your film. Was that equally about trying to achieve this impression of ultimate objectivity?
I think that omission was really important in the film, because you have a very strong presence of the camera and the settings in the film.
M.Z.: So the decision to cut our voice was important. All the stuff that is present in the movie creates a very certain kind of world, and we really stay within that world. So if we had inserted our voices, you would have been drawn out of that. It would have been strange and you would have gotten this sense that there was somebody almost intruding.
The idea of the conversation was really important, too. It was just that we wanted the conversation to be amongst themselves. There was this whole idea of the conversation taking place around a table or of them reciting stories, and it was really important to us to capture the sense of hearsay or of an oral tradition. You could hear all that much better by letting them speak amongst themselves.

With this aspect of the oral tradition, it was also almost as if your film crossed into myth sometimes. Is myth a subject that interests you?
Yeah, it comes as a development from the idea we had with our previous movie, where there was this panther, and everyone claims to have seen it in the 80s. They kind of created a legend around it. So we were quite interested in that and took it further.We first heard people discussing the person at the centre of our documentary on a lunch break, and it was almost like they were creating a myth. Right from the beginning, the stories we heard were very contradictory. Somebody would tell us he lived in a cave, and then somebody else would tell us about how they found blood somewhere. Even then we were a bit like, what are they talking about?They construct the myth in our film, though. It came directly from the stories they told. We just took it a bit further, because it is something that definitely interests us.

Are you also committed to turning documentary into more of an art form than it perhaps used to be?
Yeah, that kind of traditional approach didn’t interest us at all. We were much more fascinated by the way people would tell the stories, rather than the facts that would be in the stories.
Just because we were being artistic though, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was fake. We’ve read a few times this film being described as a “mockumentary.” I don’t know, I wouldn’t label it in a specific way. I mean, yes, there is a kind of truth in the film, and it’s a truth that we saw in that place and it came directly out of them. So does that make it a non-truth or a real truth? I don’t know.
And the artistry helps to give it that uncertainty. But it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, because there is definitely something true in it – it’s just in the final effect and in their words and the way they express themselves.
That’s why we would never label it a certain way, as either all fake or all true. Something just comes out of the movie itself.

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