Paola Cortellesi, feminist with a smile

Paola Cortellesi

According to the legendary Italian singer Mina, Paola Cortellesi is one of the best voices in Italy. The 2011 award winning comic actress, who starred on Italian TV in the late 90s, showed hundreds of qualities in those years in addition to her amiability and friendliness during this interview.

Unfortunately with the Italian comedy, Scusate se esisto, directed by Riccardo Milani and written by her very self, she doesn’t match up to the expectations. Good intentions aside, the story comes across as a stereotypical portrait of Italy, superficially supporting feminism, stigmatizing the ‘Italian macho’, while providing an obvious and narrow-minded image of homosexuality.

The premiere of Scusate se esisto, organised by CinemaItaliauk took place last Sunday at the Genesis Cinema with Riccardo Milani and Paola Cortellesi special guests.

More than 350 people attended the event and enjoyed the story of an Italian architect who decides to return to Italy after a stint in London.

You shot some scenes in London. What are the major differences between working with English and Italian crews?
The language! Nothing else. Really. It was the first time shooting in the UK and I arrived with the idea that working with British was all about roles, systems and organisation. More so, I found them friendly, helpful and collaborative and they made me feel really at home.

Leaving Italy: yes or no?
You have to go where there are opportunities for you, no matter where. In the movie Valeria Bruno comes back just because she misses Italy, although she was successful in London. I know a lot of successful Italians who decide to return to their country just because of homesickness.

In Scusate se esisto, you depict a terrible Italy. Are we really that hopeless?
There is hope, but we must change our mentality, especially regarding gender. I think that in Italy a macho culture still prevails, but we have to blame everyone for that, including women. Most of the time, we are the first to limit ourselves and narrow our perspectives in order to accomplish the traditional order. It is undeniable that women have fewer opportunities at work and we are still waiting for a law that supports motherhood, for example.

Have you ever felt discriminated against as a woman?
Yes, as an actress, but even more as an author. Sometimes I feel invisible.

Even now?
Yes, even now.

Are you a feminist?
I would not call myself a feminist. I didn’t live during the feminist movement but I know it was an important part of our history.

Do you think feminism does not make sense anymore?
Unfortunately it is still needed. We still have to speak about female quotas and the lack of women in politics and as leaders. When we stop speaking about sexism, feminism will be over.

Do you think that cinema has the power to change things?
I believe in what I do but I don’t think that cinema can change the world; we just tell a story. What I would like is to be able to entertain people and invite them to think about important issues.

Are you in favor of same-gender unions?
Sure! I think that it is really counterproductive not to give a chance to everyone to choose his/her own life.

Now that even Catholic Ireland has allowed same-gender unions, should we do the same in Italy?
I hope so, but I do not think it will happen. Not soon, at least.











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