Thursday, September 12, 2013

Enrico Lo Verso

He knew as a child that he wanted to be an actor. Now, some four decades later, Enrico Lo Verso is a respected, award-winning artist who has been celebrated throughout the world.

A scene from
L'amore Imperfetto (2002)
Born in Palermo in 1964, Lo Verso moved to Rome when he was a teenager and attended the iconic film school, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. In 1989, he made his feature film debut in Anselmo Sebastiani's, Ragazzi nervosi. For the next several years, he went back and forth working in both television and the big screen. His breakthrough project came in 1994 with the internationally acclaimed, L'America.  Gianni Amelio directed the film, and Lo Verso starred alongside veteran actor, Michele Placido. L'America is a richly symbolic film set against the backdrop of poverty stricken Albania after the fall of its communist government. Lo Verso plays the part of Gianni, an Italian swindler who along with his partner, tries to set up a manufacturing plant to make easy money off unscrupulously rebuilding the infrastructure of the devasted country. Endless encounters with the harsh realities of life in Albania lead Gianni on a spiritual transformation and in the course of the film, we watch as the sadness and desperation around him humbles his cold heart. The film is presented in the style of a documentary, which makes the plight of the actors seem even more poignant. The symbolism of the title, L'America is revealed at the end of the film as we watch a ship full of immigrants leave the shores of Albania and head across the Adriatic Sea to the "Promised Land," which for them is Italy. The performances by Enrico Lo Verso and Michele Placido are profoundly moving, perfectly embodying the vision of the film's director, Gianni Amelio.

In Rome with Enrico Lo Verso
Lo Verso has consistantly worked in both television and film throughout his career, both in Italy and abroad. He had a small role in Ridley Scott's 2001 thriller, Hannibal, which was shot mostly in Italy. One of his most rewarding projects, though, was Giuseppe Tornatore's 2009 autobiographical epic, Baaria. The film recounts three generations in the Sicilian village where he was born. Lo Verso took on the role of Minicu, a character tracked across half a century age span. In a recent interview, Lo Verso told me that Minicu has been one of the most coveted roles of his career. He loves researching his roles, and to prepare for this part, he lived alone in a hut in the mountains of Sicily. It was an opportunity for Lo Verso to connect with the land of his origins, to hear nothing but the sounds of nature and to contemplate one of the most important roles of his career. Those connections helped him fully invest in the role and grow tremendously as an actor.

Lo Verso's most recent role was in Edoardo Ponti's award-winning short film, The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars. The story follows a man and woman who strike up a friendship the night before they are both scheduled for open heart surgeries. They discover their mutual passion for mountain climbing and vow to meet in the Italian Dolomites if they both survive their respective surgeries. Lo Verso plays the role of Matteo, a man who receives the heart of a woman. The role was both physically and emotionally demanding for the actor as the subject matter deals with the important issue of organ donation and the storyline literally had him hiking through the mountains. The film made its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and went on to win the top prize in its category.

These days, Enrico Lo Verso is preparing to embark on a new personal and professional adventure, relocating to Germany where he will study the language and star in a German theatre production. Due to the international success of Lo Verso's projects, all the above films are available stateside, in particular through Amazon.

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