Days of Glory - interview - Nanni Moretti
The president's man
Legendary Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti (pictured) talks about his new film, political satire The Caiman
‘The fact that five years have passed since I made The Son’s Room is partly because I have been involved in the Girotondi, which are grassroots political movements that exist outside the political parties. We were taking a stand against the Berlusconi government and against the passivity shown by the opposition parties. I’ve also been producing films made by other directors.
‘When I started to write The Caiman, I knew I didn’t want to take on the subject of Berlusconi head on. Even as a young man, I didn’t trust filmmakers whose objective was to change peoples’ lives and mindsets. And I didn’t want The Caiman to be about the ideological awakening of its main character Bruno [played by Silvio Orlando].
‘Bruno is a producer of very low-grade movies, who hasn’t made a film in ten years, and who’s breaking up with his wife Paola [Margherita Buy] with whom he has two young sons. When he’s given a script by this young director Teresa [Jasmine Trinca], he scans it and doesn’t realise it’s about Berlusconi, whom he voted for in the past. He gets caught up in the pre-production, though, partly because he can’t wait to get back on the film set and hear the words, “Lights! Camera! Action!” People have asked me why I didn’t play the part of Bruno myself: I think that Silvio was more suitable for the role, and that I have less energy in combining acting, writing and directing than I did 20 or 30 years ago.
‘The Caiman is composed of lots of different styles and materials, as Dear Diary was. There’s Bruno’s action B-movie that begins the film, and then there’s the family story. There’s also Teresa’s film-within-a-film, which is partly visualised by Bruno and in which different actors appear as Berlusconi. I also incorporated real-life footage of the latter when he insulted the German politician Martin Schultz at the European Parliament.
‘In a sense Teresa’s film is a biographical film about 30 years of a man who becomes a political animal. There are the questions about where the enormous wealth of Berlusconi comes from, which are concerns that have never been addressed. There are the beginnings of his control over commercial television, where he began to seduce or buy the electorate: those he doesn’t succeed in buying, he simply insults. Without spoiling the ending, I didn’t want to represent Berlusconi in the final scene in a way that imitated or parodied him. I was interested in giving back to the Italian public the very shocking words of Berlusconi that they have been accustomed to hearing from him, words which have lost their impact.’
(Interview by Tom Dawson)
The Caiman opens at Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 6 Apr.