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LOCARNO 2019 Piazza Grande

Roberto De Feo • Director of The Nest

“I wanted to tell the tale of a world cut adrift, using as a metaphor the story of a family living in a place outside of time”


- Cineuropa met with Roberto De Feo, the director of horror flick The Nest, which is competing in Locarno’s Piazza Grande

Roberto De Feo  • Director of The Nest
(© Loris T. Zambelli)

We interviewed Bari filmmaker Roberto De Feo to discuss his debut feature, The Nest [+see also:
film review
interview: Roberto De Feo
film profile
, screened in the Piazza Grande section of the prestigious Locarno Film Festival.

Cineuropa: How did The Nest come about?
Roberto De Feo:
I’ve always been a huge fan of horror. The idea was born after watching a classic movie, whose name I can’t mention for spoiler reasons because the audience would then be able to guess the mystery surrounding the house that’s central to the film. I wanted to tell the tale of a world cut adrift, using as a metaphor the story of a family living in a place outside of time; the nest in which we feel safe. The nest is that place which, sooner or later, rightly or wrongly, begins to feel too small for us.

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Super young actors Justin Korovkin and Ginevra Francesconi play two kids who are totally isolated from the outside world. Why did you choose them?
I’ve never met an eleven-year-old boy like Justin, shy and introverted yet incredibly mature and talented. Justin and his character are one and the same, and we know how important that is for a director. When I first met him and he told me he could play the piano, I knew then that it was going to be my lucky day. Ginevra was the first to be chosen. The producers wanted the girl to be more adult, but when I met her, I knew there was no other Denise; no-one but her.

What did Francesca Cavallin, Maurizio Lombardi and Roberto Accornero bring to the film from an artistic point of view?
Francesca Cavallin is the Elena I’ve always dreamed of. When she turned up for the audition dressed as her character, I liked it so much I asked her to wear that outfit on set. I didn’t know Francesca beforehand, I was aware of her TV drama past, but it didn’t bother me. Was I supposed to ignore her incredible talent purely because she’d been a TV actress? I found it ridiculous. Once the cast had been decided upon, she was the first person I called. I hope it’s something of a victory for her.

Working with Maurizio was great fun. He’s a crazy artist, full of interesting ideas. On set, it was clear that he loved his character, who’s rather unusual in the Italian film landscape. At times, during the most violent scenes, he seemed so as ease that I worried for the safety of the actors. We would meet up in the hotel to rewrite lines of dialogue and think up interesting ideas.

Roberto is a gentleman and a true professional. He plays the role of the priest and represents religion in the world of the film. It was a shame I couldn’t develop his character more, but we had limited time in which to shoot the film.

There have been many films focusing on the insanity that results from isolation. What were your main reference points?
The influence of The Others by Amenábar and The Village by Shyamalan is undeniable. However, The Nest is a horror film which doesn’t deal in sudden noises or monsters which emerge from the dark. It’s a film about the fear of growing up and of discovering what we don’t know; a coming of age tale.

How did you decide upon the location?
The research went on for a year and a half, visiting locations in England, France and Italy. In the end, we found it on Google. The film was shot in La Mandria Park, in the Venaria Reale game preserve. Villa dei Laghi is a splendid 19th century property, surrounded by an enormous natural park: the dream location for any director looking to make a horror film. There are around sixty rooms and all of them have the power to transport you to another world, suspended in time. The building had been abandoned for around ten years and it wasn’t easy to restore some of the more magical aspects of the house. Francesca Bocca’s set design team did a tremendous job. I left a little part of myself behind in that house. I’m going to take this opportunity to appeal to the Piedmont Region: save Villa dei Laghi. It’s an incredible heritage asset and we can’t not preserve it.

Which genres would you like to work on in future?
At the moment, I feel like the thriller/horror genre is the one I want to take on. I made my first film at 37 years old and since then, I’ve written so many troubling stories, I’ve got drawer-loads and hard disks full of them.

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(Translated from Italian)

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