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Articles by: Chiara Basso

  • Life & People

    The Truth about the Mediterranean Diet

    “First of all, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle. It is not only a set of rules to follow at the table,” clarifies medical professor Maurizio Trevisan, founding dean of the CUNY School of Medicine and an expert on how lifestyle help cause or prevent cardiovascular disease. Indeed, this dietary attitude promotes healthy habits as well, such as eating socially. After all, in 2013 UNESCO included the Mediterranean diet in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity with this motivation: It involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin (Read the full motivation here).

     

    This lifestyle is easy to follow, once you know its principles. “We need to keep in mind that it was the diet of poor people, farmers and fishermen of the Mediterranean area, so Italy, but also Greece and parts of Spain and Morocco. It is still today a frugal dietary plan based mainly on vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes,” says Trevisan, “for instance, the Northern Italy cuisine cannot be considered part of the Mediterranean diet since it includes too many animal proteins and fats and little vegetables. Even pasta should be eaten in moderation, especially the refined type that we buy today.”

     

    So, what should we eat? Here are Trevisan’s seven golden rules

    1) First thing, condiments: use only vegetable fat, especially olive oil. Obviously in moderation.

    2) Eat vegetables and legumes.

    3) Pasta in moderation, better if you mix it with vegetables to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat.

    4) Wine in moderation.

    5) Fish and meat in moderation, not every day.

    6) Eat only seasonal food.

    7) Eat with people you like!

     

    True and false assumptions about the Mediterranean diet

    Yet, there are still too many false beliefs that are spread constantly about it. Therefore, we asked Trevisan what he thinks about some of the most common myths on the Mediterranean diet.

     

    Eat 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

    Trevisan: “Ten serving a day may be too difficult to achieve. I would say 5-6 servings a day.”

     

    Choose vegetable fats, like 4-6 spoons of olive oil per day.

    Trevisan: “True but quantity depends on how much calories you consume. In America, food scientists agreed that we should reduce the intake of animal fats and increase carbohydrates. Instead, in the Mediterranean diet your meals can have even 20-30% of fat, but of course, you have to reduce calories from other sources. It is important to respect the right ratio between the calories introduced and those consumed.”

     

    Eggs and fish are among the main components of the Mediterranean diet.

    Trevisan: “Eggs should be used but with moderation and they were not a daily item in the traditional Mediterranean diet. But a high fish consumption is a great myth too, because it was not accessible in rural areas and it was expensive for people living on the cost. I talk about the 100-year-old diet.”

     

    Eat 1-3 portions of dairy products a day.

    Trevisan: “False, that’s too much. They don’t have to be eaten every day.”

     

    Eat whole bread and pasta.

    Trevisan: "Yes, but in moderation."

     

    Use more spices.

    Trevisan: "Yes for the taste, but it is not really a main element of the Mediterranean diet."

     

    Eating local is part of the Mediterranean diet.

    Trevisan: "True. Local vegetables and fruit have more vitamins."

     

    Drink Wine.

    Trevisan: "Only in moderation."

     

    Exercise is part of the Mediterranean diet

    Trevisan: "Yes, although 100 years ago it was called working hard!"

     

    Problems of circulation: it is healthy and easy but no longer fashionable

    According to Trevisan, a frugal diet like the Mediterranean contrasts with today's attitude of wealth and opulence, and that’s why it might be seen as less fashionable compared to other diets or it may be interpreted in a way that does not reflect the original diet. The message of frugality has been lost as the commercial interests are based on consumption and sales and these aspects of the market are in contrast with the simple and frugal nature of the original Mediterranean diet.  

     

    As a result, fewer people are following this diet although there is scientific evidence that it is one of the healthiest. And this is happening in Italy too: “Ironically, now in certain areas of Northern Italy people eat more Mediterranean than in Southern Italy, especially in the urban areas, where the diet has been badly influenced by foreign habits and junk food,” reveals Trevisan, “in general, Italians still eat well and have a high life expectancy, but other places are now getting much better. Colorado, for instance, has a heart disease mortality and serum cholesterol lower than certain part of Italy. In these state, people embraced a healthy lifestyle characterized by high physical activity and a healthier diet.  

     

  • Finalists during the third and last round of the Colavita Culinary Challenge (Photo credit: Iwona Adamczyk)
    Facts & Stories

    Meet the Future Top Chefs

    The students of this public high school in Hell's Kitchen focused on the culinary arts had been prepping for months for the cooking competition sponsored by the Italian olive oil producer Colavita and the Food Education Fund of FFHS. The competing dishes were evaluated by Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio and former Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin.

     

    Only five teams of two people each were selected among 52 students to compete in this third and final round that took place on Friday, January 11; each round had different criteria that test the students’ creativity and knowledge, with the third round testing their abilities in the kitchen.

     

    The last minutes in the school’s kitchen were frantic as finalists tried to end their creations on time. They had to invent an original recipe using four mandatory ingredients plus all the ingredients they wanted. The prescribed ingredients were Colavita olive oil, Colavita balsamic vinegar, Colavita polenta, and basil grown on the school's rooftop. Two teams cooked appetizers, one opted for a main dish and two created desserts.

     

    While commenting on the dishes, Colicchio and Cowin praised the general culinary high level of the competitors. For Colicchio, some recipes were even better than some he tasted at the tv show Top Chef. Eventually, Colicchio and Cowin agreed that the main dish, ragù with polenta balls, was the challenge’s winner. It was cooked by Citlaly Hernandez and Kayla Jenkins (Team All Star), 11th grade, whose mentor was chef Jonah Miller. Every team was followed by a mentor.

     

    The two students won an all-expense-paid one-week culinary trip to Italy for culinary and cultural education, funded entirely by Colavita, plus a $2,500 college scholarship. They were awarded by Giovanni Colavita, president and CEO of Colavita USA, who said: "This is the first time that we organize a Colavita Culinary Challenge in a high school and we are really impressed by the quality presented today by these students. With this competition, we want to encourage kids to get in the kitchen fostering healthier eating habits, stronger relationships, the enjoyment of tastier food, and a curiosity for diverse cultures."

     

    Colavita is distributed in over 80 countries and is recognized worldwide as the top authentic Italian extra virgin olive oil. Colavita is the leading brand in premium extra virgin olive oil, Italian pasta, and Italian vinegar in the USA in both the retail and foodservice sectors.

     

    Chef mentors, teams, and student finalists:
    o Chef Jonah Miller (Huertas) - Team All Star (Citlaly Hernandez & Kayla
    Jenkins - 11th Grade)
    o Chef Lena Ciardulla (Marta/Maialino) - Team Justice (Chayil Hyland &
    Leonel Ramirez - 10th Grade)
    o Chef Anthony Ricco (Leuca / NHG) - Team G&E (Gilbert Abreu & Erik
    Parham - 12th Grade)
    o Chef Amy Stevenson (Food Network / Lidia Bastianich) - Team SnE
    (Steven Roque & Estefani Morales - 12th Grade)
    o Chef Dana Beninati (Food Network) - Dream Team (Gabriella Perez &
    Tracy Chan - 12th Grade)

     

  • Life & People

    Domenico Vacca, Italian Hollywood's Fashion Guru

    Celebrities feel at home in his store on 55th Street and Fifth Avenue. Just before our interview, Vacca has assisted Academy Award winner and friend Forest Whitaker to choose the right outfit for The Godfather of Harlem, a tv series where the actor is starring as the gangster Bumpy Johnson. When they are done, Vacca invites us all to have a salad right there, at the wood table close to the shopping windows of his 8,000-square-foot flagship boutique, where customers can find not only Made in Italy clothes but an Italian style café, a barbershop, a salon, a members-only club and an art gallery. “I wanted to create an experience for customers when they come here,” says the Italian designer while offering us buffalo mozzarella that arrives fresh from Naples every Thursday and focaccia pugliese.

     

    Vacca’s call for fashion after a successful career as a lawyer

    How can a lawyer become a celebrity stylist? “I come from a family deeply rooted in fashion,” Vacca tells us, “my grandmother, Sabina Orciuolo, had an atelier in Andria in the 1920s where thirty women were working for her.” Nonetheless, Vacca’s family didn’t want him to work in fashion because, according to his grandmother, this business is a lot of work and not so much money. Like many families from the South of Italy that could send their children to university, they wanted him to become a professional such as a lawyer, a judge or a doctor.

    “I did become a lawyer and practiced for ten years at the highest level. Thanks to a scholarship I first came to New York for a master’s degree in law and worked here with 90% of the Italian fashion brands in the U.S.” Vacca was “the Italian lawyer” for important names such as Tod’s, Versace, and Zegna until something happened in his family that would have shaken his world.

    “In 1995 my father got cancer, and I went back to Italy for 6 months to stay with him. When he passed away, I realized that we are not gonna live forever and thought that it was time to change my life. I believe that our careers should be more transversal than vertical. It’s great to have multiple experiences.”

    Vacca decided to start again from fashion: “Everybody thought that I was crazy but I always loved fashion and it is in my family’s roots. So, first I invested in a company from Naples that was producing for other brands. I developed the American market, the collections, I designed... and I had a lot of fun with it.”

     

    His mission: dressing Americans the “authentic Italian way”

    Vacca wanted to create a luxury brand with handmade garments for men and women, including the ready-to-wear collections, but he also wanted to dress Americans the authentic Italian way. “There were other Italian luxury brands, of course, but they were selling mainly to departments stores where buyers were looking for collections with the cheapest products and wanted to change the fit and style to meet what they thought was the taste of American market. I thought: this is not how we dress in Italy.”

    For Vacca, a jacket has to fit close to the body, Italians love colors and they care about fabrics. He wanted to bring all this to America. No more baggy jackets, no more pants with pleats on each side and wide legs.

    In order to avoid buyers and departments stores “who kill fashion instead of promoting it,” in 2002 he launched the Domenico Vacca brand and opened his first store on Fifth Avenue, in front of the Plaza Hotel. “If I have to be judge, I prefer to be judged by people of Fifth Avenue, I thought.”

    Vacca was not scared of starting a business just a few months after 9/11. Two months after the store opening, the newspaper La Repubblica called him “the Ferrari of fashion” and since many other publications called him the same. “Like a Ferrari we are classic and we respect tradition, but at the same time, we are modern. My women’s collections are chic and sexy with a mix of masculine and feminine elements. I like to empower a woman with clothes. My men’s collection is classic but with a twist that can be found in the fabric, the cut, or the colors. The Domenico Vacca’s style is the one of an Italian who has travelled the world.” Thus, everything is made in Italy, 40% from Puglia, and 90% is handmade.

     

    Celebrities

    Over a decade ago, costume designer Frank Fleming, who was working on the movie American Gangster, came into Vacca’s store to find clothes for Denzel Washington. “He loved my collection and the fact that we can custom make almost everything,” Vacca says. Since then, the designer and his team have created costumes for 50 movies and TV shows.

    “My first celebrity client was Daniel Day-Lewis. We started a long professional relationship, to the point that when he was nominated five years ago for Lincoln, he called me and told me that he wanted to be dressed for the academy awards. He won his third Oscar that night, the only actor ever to have this honor. I like to think that we bring luck!”

    Vacca dressed Forest Whitaker and Alan Arkin for their academy award nights too. As an expert, we asked him why so many celebrities commit faux pas on the red carpet and what they should do to avoid them.

     

    How to avoid mistakes on the red carpet

    Vacca believes that we would see fewer mistakes on the red carpet if celebrities first learned to have their own style, second, they listened less to stylists’ advice, and last they stopped following fashion blindly. “Most celebrities don’t have a great style and they trust improvised stylists who most of the time pay stars to wear what brands want, and dress them with fashion trends that don’t fit the celebrity’s body type. Instead, if you are an actor or an athlete and you live in front of a camera, you must take style seriously.”

    Vacca suggests to spend 10 minutes every night preparing our clothes, and he promises that in a couple of weeks we would all be pro of style. “It’s a matter of exercise like in golf or any other sport.”

    The Italian designer told us that he doesn’t pay celebrities to wear his clothes. Only after there is an already established relation, he sends them clothes and then they work together to find the best, personalized style. Usually, this relationship starts with costumes for a movie or tv series - “I think we help them to get into their characters” - and then it expands to the celebrity’s private wardrobe and eventually on the red carpet.

     

    After New York, the next step for Vacca could be Hollywood: “I would like to start my next career as a movie or tv series producer. We, a group of friend, my fiancée Eleonora Pieroni, and I, already have a lot of ideas.”

  • The consular delegation from New York got warmly greeted by the Italian community in NJ
    Facts & Stories

    Consul General Genuardi in New Jersey for the Holiday Wishes

    Italian Consul General, Francesco Genuardi, went to Clifton, New Jersey, to personally offer his holiday wishes to Honorary Consul Dominic Caruso and to the entire Italian community. Consul Genuardi was accompanied by Vice Consul General Silvia Limoncini, Deputy Consul Chiara Saulle and the CGIE vice-secretary of non-European English Speaking Countries Silvana Mangione. “We are here to demonstrate how much we care about this Honorary Consulate,” says Consul Genuardi. “Could consular services be improved? Of course and we will. New Jersey is a magnificent place. It is not only The Garden State, but also the Italian State of the US as it is the American State that most intensely loves Italy.”

     

    Honorary Consul Caruso thanked the delegation from New York for their support especially regarding Italian passports for the New Jersey community. “We have already worked on over 1000 passport applications since we started collecting biometric data with our mobile fingerprint scanner in 2016. Our youngest applicant was 4 years old, the eldest was 83 so far,” proudly said Caruso.

     

    For the last two years, Italian residents in New Jersey stopped going to Manhattan to obtain their documents to travel abroad. The data recorded in Clifton with the fingerprint scanner are in fact transmitted to the Italian General Consulate that then send the passport to the user. “With this process, Italians in New Jersey have already spared at least 100,000 dollars as they don’t have to spend money for the transportation, for taking a day off from work and so on,” underlines the Honorary Consul. There are, in fact, 19,000 people registered with AIRE (Register of Italians Residing Abroad) in New Jersey, many of these people (primarily the elderly) have difficulty traveling to Manhattan.

    “Citizens seeking to renew their Italian passports must schedule an appointment,” reminds Caruso, “the next available date is January 5. We can process around 20 people each time.”

    Italians in New Jersey might be glad not to travel to New York for their documents, “although New York is always a beautiful city to visit” jokes Consul Genuardi, but they are indeed happy when Italian institutions from the Big Apple come to their Honorary Consulate which serves the counties of Bergen, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, Union, Warren, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth, Hunterdon, Mercer, and Somerset. Genuardi and his delegation were indeed greeted warmly by the people attending the event among whom there were many “cavalieri.”

     

    Cavalier Giulio Picolli, President of the Association of the Cavalieri OMRI introduced the representatives of important local associations, such as Cav. Olga Negrini Of the Association “Ieri Oggi Domani” with headquarters in Rutherford, Mr. Franco Guttilla, President of the Sant Antonio Society based in Garfield, Mr. Salvatore Zucchero, President of the San Ciro Association based in Garfield, and the new president of the Sicilian Federation in New Jersey, Cav. Felice Brescia, who in fact is from Puglia but, as he tells us, “I love the Sicilian community and am proud to represent them.”

     

    Cav. Picolli also gives i-Italy an exclusive news: “In 2019, the Italian Association Ieri Oggi Domani will deliver three gold medals to the three cavalieri who have dedicated a large part of their lives to the Italian community of New Jersey: Cav. Uff. Jack Di Piazza, Grand Officer Peter Caruso, and Commendatore Marco Cangialosi. This one-of-a-kind award ceremony will take place on March 24 with a Grand Gala at the Rockleigh Country Club in the presence of the highest Italian diplomatic authorities, politicians from the State of New Jersey, and representatives from the American Congress and Senate.”

     

    For Picolli, these gentlemen are a living example of the ability of the Italian community in New Jersey of “bringing commercial benefits to Italy and helping with financial contributions the maintenance of our traditions, in particular, our beautiful Italian language.”

     

    After all, as Consul General Genuardi, says, New Jersey is the Italian State of the US.

    The contact details for the Honorary Consulate in Clifton, New Jersey are the following:

    Honorary Consul: Dominic Vincent Caruso
    1037 US Highway 46, Suite 105
    Clifton, New Jersey 07013
    Tel. (973) 614-8566
    Fax (973) 472-7763
    Jurisdictions: Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Sussex, Warren, Middlesex, Monmouth, Hunterdon, Mercer e Somerset.
    email: [email protected]
    Office Hours: by appointment

  • Art & Culture

    Paola Randi, an Extra-Terrestrial Director for Italy

    Paola Randi's new movie, Little Tito and the Aliens, shows a very extra-terrestrial approach for Italian standards. Not only for the sci-fi plot but also for its cinematographic style and weird characters, played by Valerio Mastandrea, in the role of a scientist searching for the voice of his latest wife in the universe from a couch in Area 51 in Nevada, and the talented newcomers Chiara Stella Riccio and Luca Esposito playing the scientist’s niece and nephews. After all, nothing in Paola Randi's "universe" is traditional. Little Tito and the Aliens was presented in New York during Italy on Screen Today, an event created by Loredana Commonara to promote the best Italian contemporary cinema.

    Why did you choose such an American genre like sci-fi?

    I don’t think it is only American. It is rather universal. I was trying to explore how humanity deals with the need of finding an antidote against the fear for death and sorrow. In an essay by Emanuele Severino, “I presocratici” (Pre-socratic philosophers), I discovered that humanity first tried to find an answer in mythology and later in science. I thought that sci-fi was the perfect mixture of the two.

    When and why did you decide to become a director?

    I have a degree in law because my father, a lawyer, wanted me to follow his path, but then I framed the degree and gave it to him as a present because, really, it was not for me. At the same time, I was working in a nonprofit created by my mother who was providing financial support and training to women in Italy and in developing countries. Only at night, I was living my parallel life as an artist writing, playing, and painting. Then, in my early thirties, I realized that I was living somebody’s else life. So, I left everything, included my fiancé, and went to Rome. In the beginning, I was working in a PR agency, a job I hated. But one day a friend of my boss’s came and said ‘I wrote a short film’ and I told him ‘I will direct it.’ I had no experience, but I was so determined that I convinced him. After I directed the movie, I felt finally comfortable, like I had finally found myself.

    Was it difficult to change your professional path at that age in Italy and in a field that is not easy like cinema?

    Yes, none of the major schools were accepting me because I was too for them, I was 33. But, although I didn’t like that first short, a client of mine saw it and loved it. He wanted to make a professional short movie to rent a camera and asked me if I had anything for Valerio Mastandrea. Valerio was already a famous actor at that time and I was nobody, but I had written something during a workshop with Silvano Agosti, a great teacher. Indeed, I had a story, Giulietta della spazzatura, about a garbage guy who falls in love with a girl just watching at what she was throwing away. Valerio liked it and we did it. Eventually, I was not satisfied with it, but a friend sent it to the Turin Film Festival and they accepted it.

    Do you think it is a very feminine characteristic never to be satisfied?

    Probably yes. Sometimes, I am fascinated by my (male) colleagues who are always so sure about what they do. But, in the end, I see it as a positive element. We aim always at something better. One of my biggest dreams is doing exactly what I want to do and see if it works. For example, I would like to have a real chance with the public.

    What do you mean?

    Distribution is a real issue in Italy because you have very few chances with a movie that does not follow the standards, from a commercial or authorial point of view. Although I had found producers since the beginning, Angelo and Matilde Barbagallo, it was difficult to find people who wanted to invest in the distribution. So it came out with no P&A (publicity and advertising) and was distributed it in the summer when you have no chance especially with a movie for families like this that should have been released in November.

    Which were the elements that made this movie so difficult to distribute?

    It’s sci-fi. Last time that somebody made a sci-fi in Italy was Nirvana (by Gabriele Salvatores, 1997).

    Which directors inspire you?

    Hal Ashby is particularly close to my heart, he made masterpieces like Being There and Harold and Maude. I love his elegant touch in depicting a surreal world which is almost like a Magritte painting. One of my favorite directors is also Paul Thomas Anderson and a lot of women like Andrea Arnold, Sally Potter or, in Italy, Alice Rohrwacher and Susanna Nicchiarelli with a movie like Nico. I love women directors and it is a shame that we still have to make a difference.

    You even tried to open an association for women in cinema. How was that experience?

    Yes, I opened it with Grazia Colombini (costume designer) and Valia Santella (screenwriter) in 2011. We didn’t succeed because we didn’t have data. At that time, women didn’t want to talk about what happened to them, it was a taboo, everybody was scared to talk. Now it is easier because it is possible to talk about it. In fact, in Italy, there is a new association called Women in Film of which I am a member. Moreover, I think that the three leading film festivals in Europe, Cannes, Venice and Berlin, should have also female art directors. That’s what we need. I don’t think there is ever been one so far.

    Did you encounter challenges as a woman in your career?

    Yes, we are constantly undermined. I am not talking only about sexual abuse, it’s also in the way they look or listen to you, the attitude they have with you. But in Italy often we don’t have the perception of being harassed. It is so deep down in our culture that it doesn’t get recognized and it is taboo talking about it. Even now if you say that you are a feminist, you are looked at as somebody with a disease. Not to talk about women’s roles in cinema: there are a lot of fragile, hysterical, poetic, delicate or wasted women, or you have mothers. But where are real women, the rest of us?

    So far your protagonists were men though.

    My next project is going to have two female protagonists. But, again, they don’t fit the cinema's standards, so it won’t be easy.

    Why they don’t fit?

    They are not super cool or super fragile. They are real women.

  • Valeria Golino, always a diva on the red carpet
    Art & Culture

    Valeria Golino. Diva and anti-diva.

    Valeria Golino is proud of her second movie as a director, Euphoria, starring two important names of contemporary Italian cinema, Valerio Mastandrea and her former partner Riccardo Scamarcio. Like her first movie, Honey (2013), it deals in a delicate manner with difficult topics such as illness and death. For this feature and her career made of about 90 movies as an actress, she also received the "Wind of Europe International Award" by Italy On Screen Today, an association created by Loredana Commonara.

     

    Yet, Valeria, among the few Italians artists to have conquered Hollywood, has a very anti-diva and carefree attitude with her curly hair and the confidence of someone who has already proved his worth and does not even have to play the femme fatale role any longer. Further, as a director, she feels like she overcame “the obstacle” of her second directorial effort because, as she explains, "if the second one is not good, people think that you were just lucky with your first one."

     

    Therefore, our interview focuses on Valeria as a director and what it means to get behind the camera at a particular historical time for women in cinema. She answered in a  spontaneous, kind and never banal way - as a true diva.

     

    In a recent interview, Jane Campion, a director who won several awards, said that thanks to the #metoo movement we are experiencing a special moment that has put an end to one of the most patriarchal periods that have ever been, the '80s and' 90s. Can we say that the same revolution is taking place in Italy?

     

    Of course, it is an important period! What happened has facilitated the work of women and busted their rights. I am not speaking only about female directors; I refer to all women as citizens. What happened was inevitable, and it did happen. However, I am sure there will be further changes, especially regarding the abuse of power and the male-female relationship, on which there is still so much confusion about what this relationship entails.

     

    As a woman, did you find it difficult to find producers and actors or to propose topics?

     

    I met the same difficulties I would have found if I were a man, talking from an external point of view. The real challenge was inside me, as a woman. It probably took me a long time to do what I wanted to do because as a woman there is sometimes a kind of intrinsic self-censorship that comes from afar.

     

    What made you change your mind?

     

    I had desired to direct for a while, but in the end, I did it after people who are close to me encouraged me to try. For example, it was difficult to find producers for my first movie, Honey, not because I am a woman but for the topic, assisted suicide. Not because it was a scabrous theme, but because it was difficult for the market. Now transgression and scandal in cinema no longer exist. Times have changed since Last Tango in Paris where a scandal made news. Now only the market counts.

     

    Have we become too politically correct?

     

    Undoubtedly we are. In the last 30 years, the more society became vulgar, the more politically correct we are. On the one hand, there is the total involution of values, of femininity and of what we aspire to. On the other hand, by contrast, there is everything we want to have or would like to be.

     

    Which are the female directors you admire the most?

     

    Among the new generation, I appreciate Alice Rohrwacher. We have two completely different ways of making cinema and telling a story, but as a spectator, I understand the unique universe she has to offer. Also, I recently worked as an actress with a really interesting young director, Céline Sciamma, whose breakthrough was Tomboy in 2011, a wonderful movie.

     

    Was it challenging to direct two men like Valerio Mastandrea and Riccardo Scamarcio on the set of Euphoria?

     

    Exactly, how to direct them! In the sense that they are two actors with a strong personality and a great experience. You just have to lasso them because they always think that there is their own way to make a particular scene.

     

    Do you think they would have listened to her more if she had been a man?

     

    No, they always respected me a lot. Well, I am not authoritarian especially with Riccardo who was my partner for a long time and on whom I've lost the authority a long time ago (laughs, ed), but I know how to take him and what are those excellent characteristics of his that maybe other directors won’t take advantage of. It was undoubtedly a privileged relationship working with him as an actor. The advantage with Valerio was that I had already worked with him as an actress so I know his idiosyncrasies. And then he is a wonderful actor. He just doesn’t have to get bored.

     

    The next project?

     

    Once I will be back in Rome, I will sit down with my screenwriters to evaluate new stories.

     

    Whom do you write your scripts with?

     

    Always the same two screenwriters (Francesca Marciano and Valia Santella, ed) for the pleasure we feel in working together. For Euphoria, I was also helped by Walter Siti, an Italian writer whom I love, but usually, it’s about us, the "girls" as we call ourselves even though we are more ladies than girls now.

     

    Is there a prize that you would like to win more than others?

     

    I would not mind winning the Palme d'Or as best director in Cannes.

     

    So far only one woman, Jane Campion with "Piano Lessons," has managed to win the Palme d'Or.

     

    I did not even mean the Palme d'Or, the highest recognition. I was thinking more about the best director award. Here, you see, that’s my mania to make me small, to self-censor myself.

  • Arte e Cultura

    Valeria Golino. Diva antidiva

    Valeria Golino è a New York per presentare il suo secondo film da regista, Euforia, che ha per protagonisti due nomi importanti del cinema italiano contemporaneo come Valerio Mastandrea e l'ex compagno Riccardo Scamarcio, e che tratta in maniera delicata di temi difficili quali malattia e morte. Poco prima della nostra chiacchierata ufficiale, incontriamo Valeria su Broadway mentre si fuma una sigaretta al freddo prima di iniziare il round di interviste e la presentazione del film. Le verrà anche assegnato un premio quella sera, il “Wind of Europe International Award”, nell’ambito di Italy On Screen Today, manifestazione ideata da Loredana Commonara.

    Eppure, Valeria, attrice con all’attivo circa 90 film e tra le poche italiane ad aver conquistato anche Hollywood, ha più che mai l’aria da anti-diva con il capello riccio sbarazzino e le scarpe basse dovute a una cattiva storta alla caviglia presa il giorno prima. Ma soprattutto ha l’aria tranquilla di chi come attrice ha già dimostrato il suo valore e non deve neanche più giocare alla femme fatale e di chi come regista è appena riuscita a superare con successo lo scoglio della seconda prova perché, dice, “se non va bene la seconda, pensano che alla prima prova sei stata solo fortunata”.

    E così la nostra intervista si concentra sulla Valeria regista e su cosa voglia dire mettersi dietro la tele in un momento storico particolare per le donne del cinema ma non solo. Lei risponde con slancio, gentile e mai banale. Da diva vera.

    In una recente intervista, Jane Campion, regista che ha avuto successo e ha vinto parecchi premi, ha affermato che, grazie anche al movimento #metoo, stiamo vivendo un momento speciale che ha messo fine a uno dei periodi più patriarcali che ci siano mai stati, cioè gli anni ‘80 e ‘90. Si può dire che la stessa rivoluzione stia avvenendo in Italia?

    Certo che è un periodo importante, ci mancherebbe! Quello che è successo ha facilitato il lavoro delle donne, i diritti al lavoro, a uno stipendio equo, ma non parlo solo delle registe, mi riferisco a tutte le donne come cittadine. È inevitabile che succedesse ed è successo. E sono certa che ci saranno altri cambiamenti per quanto riguarda l’abuso di potere e i rapporti maschio-donna su cui c’è ancora tanta confusione su ciò che questo rapporto comporta.

    Come donna, ha trovato difficoltà nel trovare produttori, proporre temi o arruolare attori?

    Credo di aver incontrato le stesse difficoltà che avrei trovato se fossi stata maschio dal punto di vista esterno. Penso che la difficoltà stava in me, come donna, cioè probabilmente ci ho messo molto a fare quello che avrei voluto fare. Come donna c’è a volte una sorta di autocensura intrinseca che viene da lontano.

    E cosa le ha fatto cambiare idea?

    Ne avevo voglia da tempo ma penso che siano stati gli altri ad aiutarmi, coloro che mi sono vicini. Mi hanno detto “proviamo a fare questo”, “lo produciamo noi”… Con il mio primo film Miele, ad esempio, ho fatto fatica a trovare chi lo producesse. Non perché sono donna ma per il tema, il suicidio assistito. E non perché fosse scabroso, ma perché entrava difficilmente nel mercato perché ormai la trasgressione e lo scandalo non esistono più. Non sono più i tempi di Ultimo tango a Parigi in cui la scabrosità nel cinema faceva scandalo e diventava evento. Ora preoccupa solo il mercato.

    Siamo diventati troppo politicamente corretti?

    Indubbiamente lo siamo. Ovvero, negli ultimi 30 anni più la società si è involgarita più ci si preoccupiamo del politically correct. Da una parte c’è l’involgarimento totale dei valori, della femminilità, di ciò a cui aspiriamo, degli status symbol e del consumismo. E dall’altra, per contrasto, c’è tutto quello che vorremmo o che vorremmo essere.

    Secondo lei le donne stanno contribuendo a portare nuovi temi nel cinema?

    Quelle brave sì. Ci sono registe interessanti, brave, poetiche, che portano uno sguardo nuovo e poi ci sono anche quelle non brave. Uguale come con gli uomini. Solo che noi siamo di meno e così ci si nota di più.

    Quali sono le registe che ammiri di più?

    Tra le giovani apprezzo Alice Rohrwacher. Abbiamo due modi completamente diversi di raccontare ma ne riconosco la poetica e da spettatrice mi rendo conto che ha un universo vero da proporre. E poi, di recente ho lavorato, da attrice, con una giovane regista veramente interessante, si chiama Céline Sciamma, arrivata alla ribalta con il film Tomboy nel 2011.

    Come è cambiato il tuo modo di recitare da quando sei regista e come viene influenzata la regista dall’attrice che c’è in te?

    Decisamente il mio essere attrice influenza il mio modo di essere regista, ad esempio nel mio rapporto con gli attori. Penso che sia stato un privilegio essere abituata ad essere guardata, da attrice, perché mi offre un altro modo di guardare. Ho lavorato sia con grandi registi che non amano dirigere gli attori che con registi meno bravi ma che sono bravissimi con gli attori. Per me il rapporto con gli attori è importantissimo perché sono co-autori del film.

    E come sei cambiata come attrice?

    Come attrice, anche prima di fare la regista, non ho mai dato fastidio ma dentro di me ero diventata intollerante per tutto ciò che succedeva sul set al punto che, dopo aver fatto oltre 80 film, mi ritrovavo a pensare del regista, che magari aveva fatto solo due film, “ma che cavolo sta facendo? Ma perché mette la macchina lì”. Ora ho perso quella smania, mi rimetto completamente nelle mani del regista. Anzi, non vedo l’ora di de-responsabilizzarmi.

    È stato difficile dirigere due uomini come Valeria Mastandrea e Riccardo Scamarcio sul set di Euforia?

    Appunto, a dirigerli! Nel senso che sono due attori con una forte personalità e una grande esperienza. Bisogna proprio prenderli al lazzo perché pensano sempre che ci sia un loro modo per fare una certa scena.

    Pensa che l’avrebbero ascoltata di più se fosse stata un uomo?

    No, mi hanno sempre rispettata molto. Nel senso, non una grandissima autorità soprattutto con Riccardo che è stato il mio compagno per tanto tempo e quindi l’autorità l’ho persa da tempo (ride, ndr) però so come prenderlo e so quali sono le sue cose belle, che magari molti altri registi non conoscono. È stato senz’altro un rapporto privilegiato. Il vantaggio con Valerio è che avevo già lavorato con lui come attrice quindi conosco le sue idiosincrasie. E poi lui è un attore stupendo, basta che non si annoi. Se non si annoia, è meraviglioso.

    Il prossimo progetto?

    Sarò più stanziale a Roma da gennaio con le mie sceneggiatrice e incominceremo a valutare diverse storie.

    Chi l’affianca nella scrittura?

    Sempre le stesse due sceneggiatrici (Francesca Marciano e Valia Santella, ndr) per il piacere che proviamo nel lavorare insieme. Per Euforia, ha partecipato anche Walter Siti, uno scrittore italiano che amo molto, ma di solito siamo noi tre, le “girls”, come ci chiamiamo tra di noi anche se ormai siamo più delle ladies.

    C’è un premio che le piacerebbe vincere più di altri?

    Non mi dispiacerebbe vincere la Palma d’Oro come Regista a Cannes.

    Finora solo una donna, Jane Campion con “Lezioni di piano”, è riuscita a vincere la Palma d’Oro.

    Ah, ma io non intendevo neanche proprio la Palma d’Oro, il massimo riconoscimento. Pensavo al Premio alla Regia. Ecco, lo vedi, la mia mania a farmi piccola, ad autocensurarmi, è sempre presente.

     

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