«I was the missing actor, the one who was himself»
Ironic and histrionic. At Bif&st 2019, where he received the Federico Fellini Platinum Award for Cinematic Excellence, he held a masterclass magnetizing the attention of each individual spectator and retracing the fundamental stages of his career. Here is the report.
by Maria Lucia Tangorra
«It was not a clear decision, it all happened by chance, even after three or four films I considered myself only a university student. Besides, at the age of 21 I was studying and I liked it a lot even though I didn’t know what I would do next. Then I started making some appearances on television and it all started from there». It’s amazing how a path born “by chance” has given us one of the most interesting actors of our panorama, with a face that speaks for himself. «I admit I did short dues and I should have done more. I burned the stages because I was the missing actor, the one who was himself, who could be perceived as authentic. The market at that time asked for that and I was able to satisfy it, then gradually the requests changed. For example, now, almost fifty years old and with all my ailments, I feel the theme of the disease that buzzes around me! I started in the mid-90s when there was no seriality today »” underlined Mastandrea – «and you could still make a certain type of cinema even if there was also a lot of very self-referential author cinema. Then things changed, the perception of the Seventh Art itself changed.
The structures and the system have changed, but good directors, scriptwriters, actresses and actors have never failed». He has known one of them, Claudio Caligari, whose lack he has noticed and whose eyes he has embraced since “L’odore della notte” (1998), supporting him as a producer to conclude “Non essere cattivo”. There is another one that has come into play, very dear to Bif st (elected honorary president) and among those who can be counted among the masters. «I miss Ettore Scola, I miss his youth and his freshness that none of us will ever have». With him he filmed “Gente di Roma” (2003), it well describes and it crosses the capital, giving back not a postcard image, but very truthful, thanks also to the situations bordering on the grotesque. Mastandrea knows that city as its pockets, he brings out the Roman dialect (he was nicknamed the “fourth king of Rome”) and therefore it was well inserted in a cast of great performers, from Arnoldo Foà to Giorgio Colangeli, all called to the appeal to provide a non-obvious portrait.
Thanks to the plurality of projects and languages (including the theatrical one – we remember “Migliore” by Mattia Torre, staged for several years). On the threshold of 50 he made his debut behind the camera with “Ride” and so he expressed himself on that experience: «I was ‘frude’ with the camera, I could have cured something more, especially on the plane technical, but I was more interested in saying certain things rather than how to tell them». At this age, usually, more you are stimulated, more you tend to make evaluations. Mastandrea has no regrets with respect to projects that did not go through, however, he revealed an anecdote about a film he wanted to make: «I remember that I did the audition for “Il branco”, I was not caught and I was very ill because I admired Marco I laughed and I wanted to work with him. “There is something in his look that does not convince me”, he justified himself. I never understood what he meant». There are bitter mouthfuls to digest throughout your career, but we are sure that the humor inherent in the character of this eclectic artist has supported him in this.
The masterclass at Bif&st becomes a moment to pull together these years and retrace them, but also – from the public – to laugh with tears and he has an innate savoir-faire in this. Here is a treat he gave about relations with the public: «the first one who approached me was from Lazio and wanted to beat me because I am a Romanist. Then, I know that there are those who can’t stand me because he identifies with me, with my normality and asks himself “why is he successful and I’m not?”. Once, instead, it happened to me, always at the beginning of my career, to drive the scooter at night, on a deserted street, when I am overtaken by another scooter with a guy who recognizes me, slows down and then tells me ‘But you are the actor! Bravo, I like how you work! I have a little bit of grass, do you want to make a reed with me?”, “No thanks, I don’t smoke” I reply. “Bravo, thank you, so I smoke it all!”, he said. That “thank you” struck me a lot». Mastandrea greeted with a declaration of love for our country. In fact, the viewer who asked him for advice on taking the actress route advised: «don’t go abroad, stay here». In Rome, the artist founded the Scuola d’Arte Cinematografica Gian Maria Volonté and he told me the origins. «Everything came from a talk, one evening, with Daniele Vicari; we looked forward to a film school that was free because we thought it should be a public service. The result is one where cinema is studied as if it were a normal job and has a close link with the world of work. In a few years it has become a high school of education. Today there are those who manage it very well and I go there occasionally, the time to demotivate the boys and then I leave!», he concluded jokingly.
Credits Ufficio Stampa Bif&st: Punto e Virgola