Evening with Abel Ferrara

    14. 11. 2019

    On Thursday, 14 November, a Q&A with director Abel Ferrara followed the screening of Tommaso in Cankarjev dom’s Kosovel Hall. The loquacious and outgoing director discussed the various aspects of his film, from lens focal length and Roman architecture to auditioning the actors and their identification with the characters. The roles predominantly involved an authentic representation of their actual lives; the main character’s wife and daughter, Nikki and Deedee, were played by the director’s real-life wife Cristina Chiriac and daughter Anna Ferrara, and the homeless person was played by an actual down-and-out. The director sees this as an influence from the work he’s been pursuing recently, having priorly made four documentaries. “It would have been ridiculous to call an actor and tell him to concentrate on a homeless person from Pakistan in order to impersonate him as authentically as possible, when this character can be played by an actual homeless person from Pakistan,” commented Ferrara. Even so, the story was entirely scripted; the spontaneous inputs from the actors that conveyed an impression of improvisation were convincing precisely because provided by acting students who attended Ferrara’s classes at a “funky little school in Rome”. The refined cinematography by Peter Zeitlinger, long-standing collaborator of Werner Herzog, added a distinctive flavour to the movie – capturing the magic of Rome that has been fascinating the director with its great antiquity and cultural atmosphere –, whereas together with Zeitlinger’s camera the intimately involved actors created a veritable “ballet”. In this context Ferrara stressed the expressive power of the long takes, which not only call for a consummate cinematographer, but also demand patience and skill from the actors; actors are used to continual cuts – especially in Hollywood productions – which allow for retouches and corrections to the performance; this is impossible in long takes – “this is where you are, and there’s no way out”. The filmmaker bravely replied to the viewers’ complex technical questions and withstood the controversial reflections that mainly related to the questionable portrayal of women.

    Written by Andraž Jež

    Photo Iztok Dimc