A man who thinks that a sense of humor is a hint of intelligence, and surely it is! I believe humans like entertainment and this is why we all turn to watch comedies.
PRINCESS is a beautiful movie, and I believe it is an inspiration for everyone. From my perspective, it can be a strong inspiring story for all those who suffer from inferiority complex and other such disorders. Not only that, the movie is surely a smart approach to help people face the real world. Lets us discuss on how you started making the idea of PRINCESS into reality, about your life and your upcoming ventures.
CULT CRITIC – What, in your opinion, is the most important quality in a Film Director?
Michele : Having something to say. I love films that are pure entertainment, but some films stay with you even when you walk out of the cinema. Those films have something to say, they make you think and they are hardly forgotten. Some films are like a rollercoaster ride, you enjoy them but the excitement disappears a soon as you get off. Some other films stay with you forever, because they have a message.
CULT CRITIC – When did the idea of being a director strike you?
Michele: I always tried to stage fake plays with my friends when I was a kid, and all the parents were forced to watch them. Telling stories was fun, but telling them visually felt amazing. Watching films I always fantasized about being on set, so I decided to learn as much as I could about filmmaking.
CULT CRITIC – Does Princess have a hidden message for those mostly teens who suffer from an inferiority complex?
Michele – The message is not that hidden actually. The film idea comes from the fact that the world of fashion is trying to include any kind of diversity. Our society is slowly moving towards the acceptance of every single person as an individual. And while there is still a long way to go, I started to think about the other side of the problem. If society is accepting diversities, how does the person labeled as “diverse” feel? I guess the overall message of the film is: if you want to feel integrated, you need to accept yourself first. Integration comes from accepting our own diversities. Nobody is perfect, but if you are proud of who you are, you are never going to feel inferior to anyone.
CULT CRITIC – What made you think of such a fairy tale theme for your movie?
Michele : I wanted the film to suit every audience, I wanted to write a story that an 8-year old kid would understand. And I love fairy tales, because they talk about visceral and ancestral issues, but disguise them as easy entertainment.
CULT CRITIC – How was it working with the cast of PRINCESS?
Michele: Well I met British actress Jo Price (who plays Mara, the therapist) and Serbian performer Nina De Lianin (who plays Sylvia, the black queen) at various fashion-film festivals around the world. I specifically wrote the roles with them in my mind, and I feel very lucky they both agreed to participate in the film. They are both very professional, they easily switch from acting to modeling, so they were perfect for a fashion film like Princess.
For Madalina Aivanoaie, the girl with Down syndrome who plays Sandy – the protagonist, that’s a whole other story. Princess producer Claudia Di Lascia and I were teaching filmmaking to a class of teenagers with various disabilities. Madalina was among them and we really connected. The rest is a big adventure that leads to the film Princess. Madalina is also partially deaf, and doesn’t speak English, but she was completely game, she threw herself into any acting challenge, and I think that’s the most important quality for and actor.
CULT CRITIC – Which is your favorite fairy tale stories made into movies?
Michele: Pinocchio. Mostly because it’s an Italian tale (written by Carlo Collodi), and I am desperately waiting for the new versions by Guillermo Del Toro, and Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone. I recently shot a short film called “The Field of Miracles” which is a contemporary spin-off of Pinocchio.
CULT CRITIC – ‘PRINCESS’ was awarded Best message, Best Actress Jo Price, Best Set Design in the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival. What was your reaction then?
Michele: I’m still bragging about that. I was of course very surprised, I don’t recall any film winning so many awards at that festival. I think Jo Price and Eugenia Tartarelli (set designer) did an amazing job, so I am very happy for them. I’m also very grateful to festival director Fred Sweet for understanding this peculiar film.
CULT CRITIC – Your Fans wants to know about your upcoming projects. Will it be a comedy or from a different genre.
Michele: I’m currently working on projects that would classify as comedies, even if they all have a sort of dramatic drive, they all explore important personal issues.
CULT CRITIC -Tell us about your Video Factory Kinedimorae. How did it all start?
Michele: I was still going to University when I met Claudia Di Lascia and Alessandro Crovi, we were entering the world of advertisement and tv industry in Milan as freelancers, but we realized we were getting along together pretty well. So Kinedimorae was born: we wanted to open a hub where creative people could explore their stories and ideas, show them to the world and turn them into revenue.
CULT CRITIC – What are the things that you learned the most while directing “PRINCESS”? Was it different from your expectation of film directing?
Michele: I believe there are two ways to lead a crew: being an arrogant self-centered perfectionist or being open to all creative input form the people on set. The second one is the hardest, but I think it pays off and brings better results. That’s what I tried to do on Princess, and that’s how I learned that it’s the hardest way, because it’s difficult to keep consistency when you try to give a chance to everybody’s ideas.
CULT CRITIC – Who are your favorite directors of all time?
Michele: This is the trickiest question for any filmmaker, so I’m going to avoid making names. I love directors who use images to tell stories. I believe cinema is a visual medium, not just a videotaped stage play. I engage in stories where the shots and the language of filmmaking can tell much more about what you would just read in the screenplay.
CULT CRITIC – In your director biography, I came across the statement “He strongly thinks that a sense of humor is a hint of intelligence.” Can you elaborate this statement from a director’s point of view?
Michele: I love the cinema, it’s a medium that can convey any message. But we don’t have to forget it’s also entertainment. I believe filmmakers can tell anything if they dress it up as entertainment. Being able to find the funny side of something, means being able to understand its intrinsic inconsistencies. Filmmakers need to explore the world, find the irony in it and show it to their audience.