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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Countdown to April 10th U.S. Release of "Black Souls" - Day 4

Interview: Peppino Mazzotta - "Rocco"

Everyone interprets art differently. That’s what makes it so beautiful. It’s an expression of the person creating it and the person admiring it. For me, “Anime nere” (Black Souls) is two separate pieces of art. It’s a beautifully, articulately written story. On the other hand, it’s an explosion of visual performance. I watched the film twice. The first time, I followed the story and carefully read the subtitles because I didn’t want to miss a thing, especially with all the dialect.

So let’s put aside the stunning lighting and cinematography and focus a bit on the performances. There are so many elements that make up the cast. We have Marco Leonardi who worked in American cinema for nearly a decade. He definitely brought an element of the American mafia story with his subtle sense of humor and arrogant confidence. When I mentioned this “lightness” to the director of the film and also to Peppino Mazzotta, they didn’t quite understand what I was talking about, so I came to the conclusion that this quality is an “American thing” that Leonardo, probably unconsciously, brought to his role due to his immersion in American filmmaking. Then at the other end of the spectrum, there is an actor like Sebastiano Filocano who has made a name for himself working in theater. The lunch scene in which the two were talking gave me the chills because their styles of acting and their presence on camera are so completely different, but when brought together, silently explode with tension, drama and gazes. All the actors said so much during that scene using just their eyes.

That brings us to Calabrese-born actor, Peppino Mazzotta, an esteemed television, theater and film actor known for his character, police officer Giuseppe Fazio on the “Il commissario Montalbano” television series. In “Anime nere” he takes on the role of Rocco, the serious, big-city brother who takes care of business. Rocco is clearly a very complicated, layered character always struggling to find balance between his northern family life and his southern family life. It’s a struggle that really tears him apart on the inside. He loves his family. That is clear. But family members are often the subject of his fierce tough love. There is an unspoken responsibility that Rocco takes for the well-being of his family whether it be his wife, daughter or brother. Mazzotta fully embraced these complexities, transforming into Rocco. 

I asked Peppino Mazzotta about this complicated character and what he thinks about the international response of this film.
 
 
Since you are from Calabria, how did this project differ from others? Did you have a special passion to work on this film that spoke about an organization that has had a negative effect on your land?
Certainly it is a film unlike any other. It’s an important, powerful film shot by a director who is extraordinarily sensitive, talented and original. Then speaking of my Calabria is an added value. The effort I put into making this movie was maximum. I liked the script. I perfectly understood the theme of the film and its narrative intent. I felt suited for the character of Rocco, but at the same time, I was well aware of the complexities involved in interpreting that kind of complicated human being. I knew that I had to interpret this character as genuinely and organically as possible.

Avendo sangue calabrese, questo progetto è diverso dagli altri film e progetti? Hai avuto una speciale passione per lavorare a questo film che parlava di una organizzazione che ha avuto un effetto negativo sulla tua terra?
Certamente è un film diverso da tutti gli altri. Un film importante, potente, girato da un regista straordinariamente sensibile, talentuoso e originale. Che parli della mia Calabria è un valore aggiunto. L’impegno che ho messo nel girare questo film è stato massimo. Mi piaceva la sceneggiatura, ne capivo perfettamente i sottotesti, ho sposato subito il tema del film e il suo intento narrativo e tematico. Mi sentivo adatto al personaggio di Rocco pur essendo consapevole della sua complessità e delle complicazioni interpretative che quel tipo di essere umano comportava. Sapevo che ci sarebbe stato poco spazio per l’imbroglio e le soluzioni tecniche del mestierante. Era necessario arrivare ad un contatto autentico e organico nell’interpretazione.

What qualities of yourself did you give to Rocco?
Rocco is a man like any other with all his doubts, his weaknesses, his frustrations and his presumptions. The film captured a delicate moment of his existence when everything seemed perfect until he ultimately was forced to confront profound tragedy. What you should do in these cases is to try to find parallels between the experience of the character and your own experiences. I know, like everyone else, what it means to be bereaved. I know and understand family ties with all their burden of suffering and misunderstanding. I know the frustration when you have the feeling of having been wronged so badly that it doesn’t seem repairable. So I tried to understand with my experience what Rocco was being subjected to.

 
Quali sono le qualità di te stesso hai dato a dare a Rocco?
Rocco è un uomo come tanti. Con tutti i suoi dubbi, le sue debolezze, le sue frustrazioni e le sue presunzioni. Viene colto, nel film, in un momento delicato della sua esistenza , apparentemente perfetta, quando è costretto a confrontarsi con un lutto insanabile. Quello che bisogna fare in questi casi è cercare di trovare dei paralleli tra l’esperienza del personaggio e quelle proprie. Io so, come tutti, che cosa vuol dire essere colpiti da un lutto. So cosa sono i legami familiari, con tutto il loro carico di affetti e di incomprensioni. Conosco il senso di frustrazione quando si ha la sensazione di aver subito un torto che non sembra essere riparabile. Per cui ho cercato di comprendere con la mia esperienza quella a cui era sottoposto Rocco. Alla fine per stabilire quanto io assomiglio a Rocco bisognerebbe definire quanto Rocco ha finito per assomigliare a me. 

What do you feel is the message of this film? Do you feel that message will be understood outside of Italy?
I think everyone, Italian or not, can grasp the meaning of the film because it tells a story of men and women, of strong feelings and powerful events. This all ends up becoming an effective examination of the reasons behind evil, the dark nature of human beings just like the great works of classical Greek tragedies. I’ve followed the film abroad from Moscow to St. Petersburg to Zagreb... The film is always warmly welcomed. Maybe beyond the Italian borders, the challenge is trying to distinguish between the mafia, 'Ndrangheta and Camorra. Aside from that, people are able to clearly understand that behind these general definitions is human tragedy.

Secondo la tua sensazione qual è  il messaggio di questo film? Pensi che il messaggio verrà compreso fuori d'Italia?
Credo che tutti, italiani e no, possano cogliere il senso del film perché racconta una storia di uomini e di donne, una storia di grandi sentimenti, e di accadimenti potentissimi che finisce per diventare un’indagine efficacissima sulle ragioni del male, sulla natura scura dell’essere umano; tanto quanto le grandi opere classiche dei tragici greci.
Ho seguito il film anche all’estero; sono stato a Mosca a San Pietroburgo, a Zagabria ecc… Ovunque il film è accolto con calore. Magari al di la dei confini italiani, fanno fatica a distinguere tra mafia,’ndrangheta e camorra; ma, attraverso il film, comprendono benissimo la tragedia umana che sta dietro queste generiche definizioni.

"Black Souls" will open in New York on April 10th, with other cities to follow.


APRIL 10TH       NEW YORK CITY

APRIL 17TH       SAN FRANCISCO, CA

                           BERKELEY, CA
                           SAN RAFAEL, CA
                           WASHINGTON, DC
                           PHILADELPHIA, PA
APRIL 24TH       LOS ANGELES, CA
                           SEATTLE, WA                       
MAY 1ST             DALLAS, TX
                           PORTLAND, OR
MAY 8TH            CHICAGO, IL
                           MIAMI, FL
                           SAN DIEGO, CA
                           HONOLULU, HI
MAY 22ND          BOSTON, MA
 

Watch the trailer: 

 

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