15/11/2022 – Nous avons rencontré la réalisatrice italienne-américaine installée en Suisse pour discuter de son premier long, qui tourne autour de la vie de son père, l’architecte Fabrizio Fiumi
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Radical Landscapes [+lire aussi :
interview : Elettra Fiumi
fiche film] is a highly personal film on the life of director Elettra Fiumi’s father, Florentine architect Fabrizio Fiumi, a member of the revolutionary artistic group known as 9999. The picture explores a little-known page in Italian history and has just had its world premiere at DOC NYC.
Cineuropa: How did your concept for the film evolve over nine years?
Elettra Fiumi: At first, I titled the film A Florentine Man, and it was meant to be a sort of biopic on my father. It would have been an overwhelming, overambitious and typical film that would have resulted from that idea. Soon after that, I started the Documentary Campus six-month film development programme, where it became clear that I had to pick one angle, one aspect of his life, in order to make the best film possible. Until then, the Radical Architecture story had naturally taken centre stage in my research, findings, interviews and the external interest from the museum and academic world. It was obvious that my first film needed to focus on the 9999 story.
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I never imagined giving up on this project. But it was gruelling, both emotionally and financially. Whenever I got stuck or frustrated, I would work on other projects, refresh and reset, then get back on it with renewed strength and clarity.
How did you cope with the impressive amount of archive materials?
When my father died and I first saw what I called “stuff”, and later called “his archive”, I came to it with my journalism background and instinct that told me this was interesting material that demanded more of my attention. My notorious curiosity led me to start digging deeper. I realised the 9999 archive was spread out across different homes. New footage and photos kept popping up from different family friends and my father’s Radical Architecture colleagues. I slowly gathered everything together, digitised it and studied it – it required a lot of patience, diligence and money. The animations by Fossick Project depict this state, where I began to feel I was one with the 9999 works and could explore them from within. We built the film in layers. The first layer was a chronological, very historical timeline. Slowly, we added layers to it. The last one was the hardest – the presence of my dad, who sort of comes back to life in the film thanks to the footage that my sister, Lilla Fiumi DiFlorio, captured of him when he was still alive.
The question of whether to use a voice-over is central in documentaries. Why did you choose it as the leitmotif of your film, and why did you decide to use your own voice, specifically?
My aversion to being in front of the camera was strong at the start. I never use voice-over in my other films, unless it’s from interviews. I often find it to be a crutch. But my business partner at the time, Lea Khayata, who is also one of the DoPs on the film, encouraged me from the start to film myself at various moments when I was thinking about my father or was caught up in situations that were related to his story. In fact, we ended up using various bits of that selfie footage that wouldn’t have been so natural or intimate had I not been filming myself on my own.
I was building a story that spans almost seven decades, with a myriad of different kinds of footage and materials. I was the only true constant, with my dad, but he couldn’t be the narrator. What I realised, too, was that my point of view as a woman was fundamental in contributing a female gaze to architecture and how it’s told. I embraced the act of using my voice for that reason. It also feels like I’m talking directly to him somehow.
The film seems to focus more on the artistic side of your father’s personality, while dealing more reservedly with his role as a father, husband, etc. Why this choice?
What I needed in making this film was to keep him alive somehow, and also to get to know him better. But his work had always been his life, for better or worse. I had known him as a type of inventor, and I felt I knew that mind, but not him to the core. And of all his projects, I connected with him most through his ideals from those 9999 years; what they were worrying about back then is unfortunately still on our minds today.
What had always inspired me about him was his strong and original approach to things – his radical architecture phase is the epitome of this, and I hope it inspired others, especially the younger generations, to adopt a radical attitude to finding solutions for today’s planet. More than a story that is important for Italy, which surprises you about a Florence typically known for its Renaissance past, it’s a story that’s important for a mankind faced with troubling environmental challenges related to nature, but also to how we engage with each other.
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Originally Appeared Here