News 2013

Interview with Matteo Oleotto, director of Zoran, il mio nipote scemo (Zoran, My Nephew the Idiot)

Giulia Ghigi Who was Matteo Oleotto before becoming a director?

Matteo Oleotto Matteo has always been crazily in love with Stories, those with a capital S. Stories to listen to, to discover and to invent. And he has always looked for these stories in his daily life. Before completely dedicating himself to directing, he has been working in a call-center, as a lifeguard, for a moving company, in a carwash, assembling micro-components, as a night assistant in a psychiatric hospital; he has also served as a waiter, an assistant cook, a gardener, a basketball referee, a hotel porter and a swim instructor.

Then he graduated in acting from the Nico Pepe Academy of Dramatic Arts in Udine and then in film direction at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. He has been working for about ten years in television, but has always dreamed of cinema. And here I am, today, introducing myself to the world!

GG Why did you choose this story for your debut film?

MO I tried to put together a few things that I wanted to narrate. A specific geographic place, the people of my homeland and a strange relationship between two opposite characters. That’s how Zoran, my nephew the idiot came out.

I have always thought that, as for your first film, you have to focus on something that you know very well. And I do know this very well. I know my land and all its eccentricities and beauties, I know the people living there and I have always been attracted by their way of relating to each other. I was looking for a story, along with co-scriptwriters Daniela Gambaro, Marco Pettenello, Pier Paolo Piciarelli,that could include everything that I wanted to narrate.

GG You have also been an actor. What has led you to choose directing as a means of artistic expression in the end?

MO I decided to enroll at the Theatre Academy because studying at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia did not grant me exemption from military service. I thought it was an interesting parallel way to become a director. And it was, indeed. As soon as I had finished the Academy, I started studying at the Centro Sperimentale and I abandoned my career as an actor, except for a few occasions in which friends asked me to help them with their projects.

Today, I believe that my crazy love for actors is, in some way, the result of my experience. Often, when you get to the film set, you spend most of the time talking to the cinematographer, the screenwriter, the costume designer and all the camera operators. Instead, I start with the actors. I like to see them improvise. I listen to their suggestions and I ask the other departments to organize their work according to the  actors’choices when possible. So, my life choices were a bit random at the beginning, I would do it all over again.

GG How was the experience on the set on a feature-length film? (Most satisfying and more difficult moment?)

MO I feel pretty comfortable on the film set. Difficult moments were just a few, except for some unavoidable hitches. More than this, I remember instead all the love that the whole crew put into this film. On the last day, under a rain shower, I saw the executive producer, along with the camera operators and the electricians, trying to cover a hole in the roof in order to prevent the rain from getting in. In that moment, I was moved. I actually cried. I had to get away from the set for a minute not to let people see me crying. Those were tears of joy. A liberating cry for seeing all those people who were helping me realize a dream. These are the kind of things you never forget.

GG The world you create leave an entire generation unrepresented: the generation of thirty-year-olds. Where are all your peers?

MO I do not know. It is a complex and fragmented generation without fathers or myths. Fighting everyday for an identity. I do not understand my generation, I try study it, but in the end I do not understand enough to deal with it.

GG The tavern in the film is a microcosm where emotional ties with comprehension and solidarity still exist. Is this nostalgia or reality? Can the geographical limits between good wine and games be lost?

MO I’d have to write an anthropological essay. Can we cut this question?

GG Paolo, that unfriendly and arrogant man, and Zoran, the educated outsider: are they two archetypes or simply two characters?

MO I really do hope they are two good characters. But if someone wants to consider them archetypes, I would be quite pleased as well.