Matteo Garrone, in Berlin for the European Film Awards (he is in the running with Io Capitano for Best Film and Director), despite jet lag (he comes from New York), lets himself go into a long conversation in which he talks about his film, cinema, sport and the future. "I've practiced so many genres," he says in the lobby of a Berlin hotel, "I'm just missing a sports film, a genre on which many extraordinary works have already been made, I'm thinking of Rocky, Million Dollar Baby and Raging Bull." Could your next film be dedicated to sport? "Why not, but always with a view to telling the story of a human condition, which is a bit like my philosophy. Speaking of sports, years ago I tried to buy the rights to Andre Agassi's Open, but they didn't give them to me, it would have been wonderful to tell his fantastic story - says the director who has a past as an enfant prodige of tennis -. Sport moves me, it also happens to me in front of an athletics race. There's nothing I can do about it."
And returning to his past as a promising tennis player at the age of eleven, he says: "At the Fleming, a legend like Borg watched me play for about thirty seconds and then also gave me one of his signature rackets that of course I still own." Why did he stop competing? "At a certain point I realized that there were athletes younger than me who had surpassed me, I knew it was time to stop, even if there was a time when I was at the top of the rankings and good money was bet on my matches." No regrets? "None. If I had continued, I would have found myself being a tennis instructor like many of my friends at the time." And again on sport he says: "At the Marrakech Festival I spoke at length with Mads Mikkelsen, also a former athlete (he was first a gymnast and then a dancer, ed.), who still regrets his past as a sportsman and who told me: only when I stop acting am I happy". Finally, from Garrone, who has already won at the EFA, considered the European Oscars, in 2008 with Gomorrah for film and direction, a parallel between being a director and a sportsman: "Both are individual, individual works, which require a great deal of effort and in which the competitive component is important".
As for the promotion in the US of Io Capitano, which Italy has designated for the Oscar race as best international film, the director points out: "We have had only positive reactions, also because America is basically a land of migrants and then people like this film, because it is an epic journey, it tells the story of modern slavery". The director then recalls that he has presented this difficult work, in the original language with subtitles, in as many as seventy-five Italian cinemas always with great success and points out that there are, to date, bookings for schools until March. Io Capitano, which will be released in US cinemas in 2024 by Cohen Media, will be distributed in as many as twenty African countries and there will then exceptionally be a private Pixar screening in San Francisco. Paolo Del Brocco, CEO of Rai Cinema, points out in Berlin that in the event that the film manages to enter the shortlist of fifteen finalists for the Oscars (it will be known on December 21), in addition to that of the MiC, it could also have the support of large national companies. "Some have already responded enthusiastically," says Del Brocco. A unique case, which would see for the first time companies and institutions, among the most representative of our country, united for a common project, of great social and cultural importance".
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