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LECCE 2019

Laura Luchetti • Director of Twin Flower

“There’s no better way of expressing immense pain than through silence”


- We met with director Laura Luchetti at the 20th Lecce European Film Festival, where her film Twin Flower enjoyed a special event screening

Laura Luchetti • Director of Twin Flower
(© Pietro Coccia)

Director Laura Luchetti is back in Puglia, where her film, Twin Flower [+see also:
film review
film profile
, took its very first steps. Initially selected for the Apulia Film Commission’s Apulia Film Forum while still being written, the second feature film by the Roman director (following on from Febbre da fieno [+see also:
film profile
in 2011) went on to have its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and has been touring various international festivals since September last year. It was screened as part of a special event at the 20th Lecce European Film Festival, where we met with the director ahead of the film’s Italian release, set to take place on 6 June courtesy of Fandango.

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Cineuropa: From Toronto to the present day, what has the film achieved in its seven months of life?
Laura Luchetti: The film premiered in Toronto in the Discovery section, which is where many of the directors I really love started their careers, so for me, it was a blessing. While it was there, it also received an honourable mention from the FIPRESCI prize jury, an accolade which exceeded all my expectations. The film then toured quite a bit - Montpellier (where it was also crowned Best Film), Busan, the London Film Festival and many others - and it’s still touring quite a bit. This is a big help for what is a very small film. The emotion it stirred among many viewers, especially in the Nordic countries, was a huge honour, as were the hugs we were given from people who had lived through similar experiences. It was lovely when a man here in Lecce told me that even though he didn’t know who had directed the film, he could tell it was the work of a woman, because there were very powerful things which he liked and which had a distinctly female touch.

You’ve stressed that this film was made with a lot of love.
It’s the result of great teamwork and great mutual trust between me and the actors. I asked great things of them and it was the first time they’d ever acted. Kalill Kone (who plays Basim, ndr), we found in a refugee centre in Cagliari where he’d arrived on a boat just a few months earlier. When he did a screen test, there was no doubt about it, he carried a whole world inside of himself, he could recognise himself in what I’d written. In Anastasyia Bogach (Anna), I felt the same quality that I felt in Kalill: that of survival. They’re two animalistic beings. She’d also arrived illegally in Italy, travelling from the Ukraine when she was 4 years old in the back of a truck.

The film’s theme is highly topical, but it was conceived many years ago.
Let’s just say that Twin Flower is my second first film - I actually wrote it before Febbre da fieno. Years ago, a very young girl told me that she’d fled to England at 14 years old; she was running away from a violent background. I was stunned that a little girl should have to face such a long journey all on her own. Then I did a bit of research and came across the phenomenon of so-called “ghosts”: minors who disembark on our shores and then disappear. I imagined what would happen if that girl met one of these ghosts: two different worlds, two different languages; he’s an illegal immigrant, she’s the daughter of a people trafficker. It’s an impossible friendship to all intents and purposes, but it becomes essential to them.

Depriving Anna of speech is a brilliant idea. It makes the context more abstract, especially when compared to Basim, a character who speaks every language going.
Silence can speak far louder than a thousand words. There’s no better way of expressing immense pain than through silence. Someone who’d suffered so much couldn’t do anything other than shut herself off from the world. In fact, these two kids will have to do something paradoxically awful in order to take back their stolen innocence and have a future like everyone else.

Twin Flower is a very naturalistic film. But you’ve also directed animated shorts:  Bagni, Sugarlove… Will your next project be a work of fiction or animation?
Animation is one of my great passions, it allows me to express my gentler side as a dreamer, even if there are always some dark elements involved. Basically, I’m an enthusiast and I try to make use of all possible options for telling a story. Animation is quite a special medium - it allows you to play with dolls for your whole life. The next film, which will be a work of fiction, will revolve around the story of protecting someone’s virginity, set in Northern Italy, with young protagonists once again. I’m writing it now.

(Translated from Italian)

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