Sometimes it happens that one’s story, emotions, ups and downs and all the difficulties become a starting point for creating something great. So, it happened to Charlie Chaplin who transformed the pain of his mother’s absence into a wonderful and unexpected destiny. “Hannah Can You Hear Me?” awarded at the 72nd Cannes Festival and produced by the Tuscan Michela Scolari (with Sonjja and Noam Baram). She is of course very very busy at Cannes, but wehad the chance to intercept her her before she leaves again for London.
by Francesca Capaccioli
A mother who is separated from her child and locked up in an asylum. An immense pain that will inevitably condition Chaplin’s life. An important theme and an award. Are you happy?
We are very pleased to have received this recognition. Hannah Can You Hear Me? was awarded by the United Nations at the 72nd Exhibition of International Cinema in Cannes, on the occasion of the Eighth Edition of the AFI WORLD PEACE AWARD, that privileges socially-oriented films that are opened to cultural diversity and give voice to women, as wanted by Princess Angelique Monet, patron of the initiative. It’s a film that tells the story of a great pain: the separation of a mother “Hannah”, from her son “Charlie”, a story behind the life of the Chaplin phenomenon and that only a few know. Charlie Chaplin’s life, all that it was, that sweet melancholy in his eyes is all due to Hanna, his mother. Sometimes, like in this case, pain transforms and can nurture the greatest success.
Hanna is a character that is not that well known, why did it come to your mind?
The idea of this film is not mine, but it’s of Sonjja Baram, the director and producer, and Noam Baram, producer, both majors in History of Women and Classic Cinema. I had only the honor of producing it. We are excited and grateful for the award we received for Best Art Film, and we are delighted to have succeeded in giving voice to a woman and an immense artist like Hannah, through an experimental form that pays tribute to the silent cinema, to Chaplin’s greatness and its value in today’s cinema.
Michela you are writer, director, producer. How do deal with all these different sides of you?
I make them live together as all the independent filmmakers do, it’s the life we have chosen. The three things are inextricably united and they would not exist without one another. You feel the need to write, the need to direct, the need to produce and to give life to what you have in mind, to materialize your life’s vision. And speaking of life, I live it practically on an airplane.
When you were eleven years old you published your first book, you had very clear ideas about what you wanted to be…
It was a story entitled The River in the Hills; today we could call it an ecological story. I was an inspired child, thanks to my grandparents, lovers of literature, theater, art; and thanks to the wonderful place I lived in: Strada in Casentino. They passed down to me all the love that I have for reading, for stories, for Italo Calvino, Pirandello…
You write in Italian, French, English and Romanian…
I write in English and Italian; I write Romanian very badly, but I love the Romanian culture, they are people who have an immense theatrical, musical and operatic culture. Bucharest is a city that gave me so much, and the Romanian new wave inspires me every day. Porumboiu’s last film, in competition at Cannes, is very beautiful.
What are you reading right now?
A billion things all together, I am a schizophrenic of reading, I always carry my favorite author, Roman Gary, in my bag and I’m re-reading I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), but I can’t tell you why.
And your next movie?
Many projects. I’ll tell you three: first, the documentary on the champion Paolo Rossi, it will be released soon. My second project is an historical drama set in NYC, South Africa and Basilicata, the Italian region that holds my heart. The third is an irreverent, wonderfully typical Italian comedy born from the extraordinary pen of Adamo Dionisi, in collaboration with Edoardo Pesce and Marcello Fonte.
And what about the film project on the life of Licio Gelli?
So much has been written about it, and badly written. I will not produce any film on Licio Gelli, Italy is not ready, in the minds of many it would seem the example of an insane political propaganda. I want to remember Licio for what he meant for me, a human inspiration, a Nobel Prize for literature, a man of great knowledge who opened his house and his archives to me, and who helped me growing.