Director Claudio Giovannesi was the very outsider among the Italian directors selected for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at the 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, where he presented his last movie. Fiore tells the story of Daphne (Daphne Scoccia), a teenage petty criminal, imprisoned for robbery in a youth detention centre. Whilst struggling with the hardships of her incarceration and trying to get back the relationship with her father (Valerio Mastrandrea), she gradually develops a relationship with Josh (Josh Algeri), also an inmate, in the separate male section of the centre. Giovannesi talked about Fiore during the 60th BFI London Film Festival.
Where does the title (Fiore, ‘flower’ in English) come from?
Since the very beginning we were looking for a simple image that everyone could understand. A symbolic image, a metaphor of the innocence and femininity. And this word was exactly fiore. When we screened the film before Cannes, the Italian distributor told me that if I was going to use that title, anyone would have asked about its meaning. And so you too fulfilled this prophecy today!
How was the idea of the script born?
My previous film, Alí ha gli occhi azzurri (Alí Blue Eyes), was about innocence and guilt in young people. This is a topic I really care about. Fiore as well was born from this idea. There is a girl in prison who experiences the innocence of her feelings. Also, I wanted to tell a love story I needed some kind of obstacle, like in drama and novels. The bigger the obstacle, the stronger the love story. When we found out that in Rome there is a mixed juvenile detention camp where boys and girls cannot meet, we found the idea for the film.
You shot in a real jail, although an empty one. What kind of memory did you get?
We went to a prison for young offenders for six months during the preparation, and that was the strongest experience. I have never been inside a prison before and neither did the screenwriters. The conflict between the young age of the inmates and their guilt is strong. Innocence, desire, friendship, are all experienced in an innocent way, but in a prison.
Fiore is about love, not about life behind bars. You brought real feelings in a place cut off from emotions.
That was our bet. I wanted to describe the birth of a love story in a place where love is forbidden. The sentimental education of the two young characters takes place where all feelings are forbidden. Films set in prisons are generally grim because they deal with punishment. We tried to describe it as something nice, which is a paradox.
How did you choose the two main characters (Daphne and Josh)? They are non-professional actors.
I am always looking for characters as real as possible and I do that removing the distance between actor and character. For instance, Josh was actually imprisoned for three years and he took acting lessons in jail. Daphne had very similar experience. Many guys were actually ex-inmates and I also chose real police officers.
In the film the two main characters look at each other from far, exchanging glances.
The female building weas facing the male building. Communication is clandestine, just with a glance. In an era when love is conveyed by social networks and the internet, I chose a communication based on glances and letters. A Medieval condition, very romantic.
Film photography is by Daniele Ciprì. How was working with a professional like him?
This is the second time I have worked with him. We call him maestro on set. The film he made with Maresco are very important for me. He is an amazing man and an incredible artist.
You also directed two episodes in the second season of Gomorrah The series. How is the current situation of TV series in Italy? Are cinema and TV series influenced by each other?
TV series language is more similar to cinema now. The great American artists, like Soderbergh and Scorsese, shot TV series, and many others are exploring this new style, based on longer narration. Thit is the future.
What does Italy mean for you?
It’s the place where I was born and grew up. It’s a place I love despite its contradictions and it’s where I take my stories.
Click here to watch the trailer.
Click here to read the article in Italian.