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Davide Marengo, director, and Paola Papa, scriptwriter

Picaresque beginnings

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Davide Marengo, director, and Paola Papa, scriptwriter

Craj, a musical journey across the Italian region of Puglia initially presented on stage, then made into a documentary by Davide Marengo, has just received the Lino Micciché Prize from the CSC as Best First Feature after its presentation at the Venice Days. Indeed, the beauty of this tribute to traditions transcends that of its subject; the very form of this both experimental and picaresque fusion of different materials, that is, different visual arts, is the most vibrant way to perpetuate oral tradition (cf. news 12 Sept.). Cineuropa met the young director and his co-scriptwriter Paola Papa in Venice, at the Authors' Villa.

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Why did you choose to stage this musical journey through the Region of Puglia?
Davide: I clearly thought of Don Quixote but my influences were mostly emotional. I am a Napolitan who fell in love with Puglia. The idea to make a film came very spontaneously a year ago; we had to hurry anyway, for the concerts were already scheduled. We started adapting Teresa De Sio's live show and filming last Summer.

Did you divide up the work or did you do everything together?
Davide and Paola (in a single voice): All together!
Paola: We really wrote the whole thing together, sitting around the table in our bathing suits, in a house in Basilicata (province of Potenza).

What is really striking here is the fact that even young people really stick to this musical tradition. There are plenty of young people dancing during the concert.
Davide:This is typical of this province. Anywhere in Puglia, children and teenagers love traditional music. And it is so communicative that the public loved it everywhere during the Italian tour (the concert we filmed took place in Abbruzzo). This tradition is beautiful because it really unites all generations, which the character Froridippo expresses in a lyrical way, for he leaves the dark and goes towards the light of traditions.
Paola: Of course, within the tradition, there are some differences. In Carpino, the lyrics are cheerful and hedonistic; it is all about women, wine, etc. In Foggia, the songs deal with poverty. Same in Cutrufiano, in a more romantic way.

What's next?
Paola: A documentary about a Columbian dancer who teaches favella kids.
Davide: A thriller (I got funding from the Ministry), but I am also interested in Paola's project.

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