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VENICE 2019 Sconfini

Alessandro Rossetto • Director of Effetto Domino

“In my world, the actors can’t go wrong”


- VENICE 2019: Cineuropa chatted to Padua-born filmmaker Alessandro Rossetto about his second feature, Effetto Domino, screening in the Sconfini section

Alessandro Rossetto  • Director of Effetto Domino
(© La Biennale di Venezia/ASAC)

Shown in the Sconfini section at the Venice Film Festival, Effetto Domino [+see also:
film review
interview: Alessandro Rossetto
film profile
(already in Italian cinemas, following its festival premiere) sees Alessandro Rossetto follow the dreams of two small-timers (Diego Ribon and Mirko Artuso) who are hoping to finally make it big by transforming abandoned hotels into luxurious, state-of-the-art retirement homes.

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Cineuropa: Why did you decide to work again with so many people from your previous film, Small Homeland [+see also:
film review
film profile
? Which was also shown in Venice, by the way, in 2013.
Alessandro Rossetto:
I wanted to continue this way of working that I had already explored in Small Homeland, one that borrows from Cassavetes’ spontaneity or the commedia dell’arte, where you had these troupes of actors, each with a specific role. I think it was different this time because it’s a bigger story and there are more characters. It’s divided into all these different parts, and they had less time to go deeper. That said, once again, we took our time to prepare because, for me, the performance is crucial. I trust my actors, and in my world, they can’t go wrong.

Effetto Domino is based on a novel by another Padua resident [Romolo Bugaro]. How faithful is your new take?
The novel shows you this “domino effect”. I read it three years ago and found it striking because it was something I was already interested in: the tragedy of normal people who are unable to make the payments and slowly head towards bankruptcy. In it, I found a lot of things I had actually witnessed before, and I was also interested in the structure it was suggesting – I think the movie reflects it in some way, although this whole aspect that almost seems science-fiction-like, about the ageing of our society, wasn’t in the novel.

It’s an interesting milieu you capture right at the beginning of the film – these empty, abandoned buildings, as if they were in some post-apocalyptic universe.
These are the remains of the past that’s still very recent. It was a starting point – it’s not some remote history. That’s what I really love: finding real places and then transforming them into fictional settings. It was something I was looking for, and I think I have found it, because in the novel, the whole story revolves around the creation of a new town. I decided to change it – uproot it, if you will – and set it in this forgotten spa complex. Its decay seems even more shocking because it was created as a place of luxury, maybe even a bit decadent.

Why was it important for you to, once again, shoot the film in the Venetian dialect?
I was never afraid that it would influence the reception of my films, and I still don’t worry about it. In these last ten years, I have seen similar events unfold in a particular area, so to think that I would suddenly need to go somewhere else to tell this story… It just didn’t work. I wanted to hear these accents, see these people and refer to my actual experiences, too. I very often find that all of these accents and different voices bring a whole new reality into cinema. It gives it authenticity. But, you know, my next film might be in English, so I don’t need to do it every single time. It’s not my prerogative.

There are many people coming in from the outside in the film: mostly foreign businessmen looking to close a deal. You already talked about “the other” in Small Homeland, too, but now they are the ones holding all the power. It’s a massive shift.
It’s just one of these cases when the screenplay starts reflecting reality, in a way. There are Chinese interests when it comes to investing in real estate – exactly in the same place where we shot the film. There are plans to create luxury residences for very specific people. So the idea of bringing all this in was quite automatic. We wanted to show all of these international bankers and financiers who move freely all over the world, making it their own.

You show common people who are not afraid to dream big. But unlike in some feel-good stories, mostly American ones, you seem very practical about where it can lead them.
Well, it’s not a comedy. But if you were to go back to some of these scenes now, for all their hardship, it appears that every one of these characters learned something about what it means to be human. It’s a difficult film, sure, but I really believe it expresses my belief in humanity. We can be violent and destructive, even towards those we consider the closest to us, but deep down, we don’t want to hurt them. There are some people here that do bad things, but not because they are evil. They do it for the money.

With Diego Ribon, I think he gave an incredible performance, but this duality in his character was something we both worked very hard on. I think that it’s absolutely essential to let your actors speak. Again, just like Cassavetes, I really believe in what they bring through their bodies and their voices. What’s inside of them is really what cinema is all about.

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