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Il Divo - Paolo Sorrentino interview

Paolo Sorrentino directs Il Divo

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ITALIAN director Paolo Sorrentino about making Il Divo, his new film about fabled Italian politician Giulio Andreotti – one of the most controversial figures of recent years.

He also talks about Italian cinema and why he doesn’t necessarily think it has only just made a comeback following the success of Il Divo and Gomorrah and what he plans to do next…

Q. Why make a film about President Giulio Andreotti and his seventh election in particular?
Paolo Sorrentino: It’s a film I’ve wanted to make for a long time. Giulio Andreotti is such an important figure for Italian politics and Italian people that sooner or later it would have happened.

Q. And why did you choose to focus on his seventh term and the end of his career?
Paolo Sorrentino: It wasn’t an easy choice to make because he’s had such a long career, from the end of World War II up to the mid-90s. But it was interesting in the sense that he was at the height of his power and then fell from grace in the way that he did. They were important years themselves, too, in the changes that were taking place in Italian society and in politics.

Q. Did you speak to Andreotti while making the film?
Paolo Sorrentino: I didn’t speak to him but I met him twice before I actually started writing the film. That proved more useful in terms of observing him and the manner of his behaviour and the way he carried himself.

Q. The film reunites you with actor Toni Servillo, from The Consequences of Love. Did you find that you had a shorthand?
Paolo Sorrentino: Yes, we have a great rapport at this stage. We know each other well and have worked together before as you say, so we didn’t need to spend a lot of time talking about what we were looking for. We both wanted to achieve the same things and were looking towards the same goal. It was nice to be working with him again.

Q. Was he the first choice for Andreotti?
Paolo Sorrentino: He was the first and only choice for the role.

Q. How has the film been received in Italy?
Paolo Sorrentino: Overall, the reaction has been very good. It’s a very popular film and a lot of people have gone to see it.

Q. What about politicians? Have you had much of a reaction from them?
Paolo Sorrentino: No, there hasn’t been much of a reaction from politicians. They have more or less kept their mouths closed [laughs].

Q. What’s your personal opinion of Andreotti?
Paolo Sorrentino: I wouldn’t have much to add on top of what I’ve shown in the film. Andreotti, like all people, has light areas and shadows. It’s just that because of the position he was in, his decisions tended to affect other people a lot more.

Q. Films like Il Divo and Gomorrah have heralded a revival in Italian cinema at an international level. How do you feel about that?
Paolo Sorrentino: I’m very happy in one sense. But I wouldn’t accept that there’s been a rebirth because that would imply that Italian cinema is dead or was in a bad position. I feel that Italian cinema has and continues to make good films for some time.

Q. Coming from Naples yourself, what did you think of Gomorrah?
Paolo Sorrentino: I have a very high regard for it and I admire it very much.

Q. You made your acting debut in The Caiman last year. Is that something you’d like to do more of, or are you happiest behind the camera?
Paolo Sorrentino: [Laughs] No, I got a call from Nani Moretti, who likes to stick directors in his films. But I have no plans to pursue an acting career. I’m definitely happiest making films.

Q. What is next for you?
Paolo Sorrentino: I don’t know at this moment in time.

Q. Would you consider taking a look at the earlier years of Andreotti’s career?
Paolo Sorrentino: No, that’s it for Andreotti. I wouldn’t like to repeat myself my revisiting the same kind of material.

Read our review of Il Divo