I meet Barbara Enrichi in her home in Milano one afternoon in December, while outside the last rays of a winter sunset give way to the sparkling Christmas lights of the city. Barbara is a elegant and discreet woman, with a great listening attitude, perhaps characteristically far from the characters she played on the big screen including Selvaggia in the film “Il Ciclone” which in 1996 earned her the prestigious David di Donatello award. Today Barbara is divided between family, cinema and training as Actor Coach at the Experimental Cinematography Center, in Lombardy.

di Giuseppe Savarino

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Recently at the cinema in the film “Pinocchio” by Matteo Garrone where you play the role of Geppetto’s neighbor played by Oscar winner Roberto Benigni. How was to work with these two great names of the cinema?

«A really interesting experience. The director had chosen me based on a video; he appreciated my improvisation skills suited to that role. The scene of the film was shot in the “Tenuta La Fratta” in Valdichiana, a municipality of Sinalunga, a very beautiful place where the town of Geppetto was rebuilt. Garrone is a director with a marked humanity and with a rare ability to enhance the peculiarities of us actors. The meeting with Roberto Benigni was fantastic and very exciting for me. He is the emblem of the Italian actors in the world. Is good. He’s really good! His monologues are works of art. A man of great culture and humanity».

Previously you worked in the film “Forse è solo mal di mare” by Simona De Simone… «A beautiful experience. In the cast I had the pleasure of working with the wonderful Maria Grazia Cucinotta. We shot in Linosa, a beautiful island that offers glimpses of extraordinary beauty. In this film I also worked as an Actor Coach».

Barbara you are teacher in “Direzione attori per i registi” at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Sede Lombardia. An important figure for the preparation to the actors. A guide for the production that works in symbiosis with the direction. «My work has always been at the Experimental Center of Cinematography, Sede Lombardia, where I teach directors how to direct actors. We are now organizing, in collaboration with Manifatture Digitali Cinema EXTRA, a series of practical actors direction workshops, aimed at directors, entitled “The director’s work with the actors”: from the organization of the casting to the choice of actors, from the analysis of the scene and the character at the rehearsal, working on different genres. An innovative training course, which addresses all that directors need to know in order to direct the actors, to obtain the right interpretation, with mutual satisfaction, and to best express the actor’s potentialities of the actors of a film».

Barbara you are involved in social issues: «We recently took Evan, a guide dog of the Lions of Limbiate. We kept it for a year and, if it is suitable, it will become a guide dog for the blind. These dogs are trained and then given to blind people. They are of great help in dealing with normal everyday life, such as crossing the road or taking public transport (buses and metro), climbing escalators, or avoiding any obstacles. They are instructed not to be afraid. For them it is not a job, but a kind of game».

More than twenty years have passed since you began your film career. What are differences in the choice of directors? What is changed in the cinema? Is there a different focus on the themes? «Technologies have changed. From film we have gone digital. The scenes can also be done several times at no additional cost. This is already a big change. The platforms have changed. Now you can watch a movie streamed or on your phone. Cinema is also changing towards women and it is increasingly done by women, although there is still a long way to go in this regard».

Time passes amiably, Barbara offers me tea and a delicious slice of cake that she prepared. A special recipe from her mom. Barbara loves to cook, it can be seen from the arsenal of utensils in plain sight and from the quantity of aromas and spices that she cultivates with love using the light of her Milanese apartment.

What advice would you give to a young man that they want to approach the world of cinema or television: «I tell the actors to study and train in a school that gives concrete foundations and then gain experience, with humility and a great desire to learn. Thinking about tackling work without any basis is absolutely out of place. You must always study, be updated and careful».

And what about the training of directors? «I advise them not to underestimate the direction of the actors; many directors stop only on the technical aspect: shots and photography, some of them struggle to translate what they thought in their heads during the shooting. This is where the role of the Actor Coach comes into play. It’s like a kind of training before shooting the scenes to get good results and find a better harmony between the director and the actor».