Poetry on the Screen- Ferdinando Cito Filomarino

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By José Lourenço

“Today, I curve naked, in the clarity
of the white bath and I’ll curve naked
on a bed tomorrow, if someone
will take me. and one day naked, alone,
stretched out under too much earth,
I’ll be, when death has called upon me.”

329035_5160878_Senza_tito_16749513_mediumLines like these presaged a tragic end for Antonia Pozzi, who killed herself at 26. Ferdinando Cito Filomarino’s debut feature film ‘Antonia’ (2015) covers the last decade of the daring Italian poet’s life. The director told The Peacock, “I can’t say there’s a single answer to why she killed herself, but my study shows that Antonia was not clinically sick in any way. There’s something with artists, and poets specifically, an immense sensitivity to the way they look at life. Their insight is so strong that they have a hard time actually living life, and interacting like normal people. She lived in a period of extreme oppression, and was a woman writing poetry, and taking pictures and expressing herself. She must have felt incompatible with everybody around her. Love never seemed to work, and friendships ceased. And her art, which was the ultimate thing that she had, did not respond. So she must have felt like there wasn’t enough for her to stay alive anymore.”
You will not hear any of Antonia’s poems recited in Filomarino’s movie. He explains, “you see moments when she is writing, and you see the poems that are printed. But the poetry is never aural, never voiced. I believe that poetry is written laid out on a page, and the poet intended for you to experience that page with that layout. If a person acts out the poetry, you don’t get it. That person becomes an intruder between you and the work. It is someone interpreting the poetry. I did not want that, I wanted to go directly to her. I was also trying to understand why and how she wrote those poems, and I hoped that when you saw them you would see beyond the words.”
An avid cinephile, Filomarino has watched hundreds of films about artists. “There are movies about poets, like the one about Sylvia Plath, but it is more a love story with Sylvia Plath in it, and not really about the poet. One interesting film ‘Andrei Rublev’ (1966), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is about the painter Rublev, but it does not talk about him. Instead, it is about the essence of his art. The movie begins with some men in a hot air balloon, and Rublev is not even in the scene. That inspired me. I also  liked Derek Jarman’s film about Caravaggio the painter. It was set in the artist’s time, and also includes anachronistic scenes from the 1980s.”
Filomarino studied Film History and Semiotics of Film, and then assisted Italian filmmakers Luca Guadagnino and Marco Morabito, who eventually produced his first short film ‘Diarchia’ (2010) as well as ‘Antonia’. He says, “the most radical thing you can do in Italian cinema today is to make a movie that does not respond to commercial demands, and to make movies in the classical genres. You see, in the last 20 years, Italian television has gradually degenerated, under Berlusconi, who owned a lot of the media. Cinema was also affected. Many filmmakers prioritize safer films, with commercial actors and recognizable stories, and a tendency to repeat themselves. To make a movie that does not respond to such standards, and does not have these popular actors, would be radical today. To make a film that is classically narrative, to make a genre film like say a thriller, would be, very ironically, an avant garde thing to do.”
The director says, “I find it extremely interesting, having made a film about a young girl set in Milan in the 1930s , to be able to show this movie in Goa, in India. At the screening yesterday, the hall was full, and we also had a nice Q&A session. I never thought that so many  people would respond to a film that is so specific. Then I met some writers and artists from Goa after the screening, and we talked. I feel privileged that such people came to see my film and responded to it. It’s fantastic!”

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