SILVIA LUZI


Silvia Carlorosi,
Bronx Community College
City University of New York

Silvia Luzi is one of the youngest female directors who currently dwell the Italian cinematographic landscape. Born on May 27th, 1976 in a town of the Marche region, Ascoli Piceno, Silvia Luzi started her career as an independent television journalist and soon moved to cinema. Her interest in focusing on social aspects of the contemporary world is a constant in her work.

 

In 2012 she and Luca Bellino founded TFilm, an independent production house based in Rome. As CEO, Luzi has guided the specific mission of the company to focus on producing, creating and supporting artists whose cinematic works have a clear social and political connection, both in Italy and abroad.[2] TFilm has received various recognitions and prizes for the works produced, the most prominent of which is the FEDORA prize (Federazione Europea Critici Cinematografici).

Silvia Luzi’s early works, which were collaborations with co-director and co-cinematographer Bellino, are documentaries that focus on social and political matters: La minaccia (The Threat, 2008) and Dell’arte della guerra (Of the Art of War, 2012). La minaccia revolves around the Bolivarian revolution and follows President Hugo Chávez on a tour around the largest oil reserve in the world, situated beneath the Orinoco River. In contrast to Chávez’s perspective, the documentary investigates lives of everyday Venezuelans and explores their relationship with a socialist government. It represents contrasting perspectives of a nation which, in that specific historical period, is divided in two: the question beneath the documentary is whether a socialist government is still possible in these post-ideological times. La minaccia achieved international success, it was nominated for the Davide di Donatello, and won the New York Filmmaker Prize as Best Documentary. Luzi and Bellino achieved an even more resonant international success with the following documentary Dell’arte della guerra, the first TFilm production. The documentary follows the strike of four workers who climb a 20 meter high crane, and threatens to throw themselves off in order to protest the dismantling of machinery and the closure of the INNSE (Innocenti Sant’Eustachio Spa), the last active and largest steal producing factory in Milan. The documentary was nominated for a Golden Globe and won over 20 prizes in international festivals.[2]

Luzi’s first, and as of now only, feature film, Il cratere (Crater, 2018) offers an example of the development of her collaborative relationship, as director and cinematographer, with Luca Bellino. The story centers around Sharon, the film’s protagonist, a teenager who measures herself against the suffocating expectations of her Neapolitan family. Rosario, a domineering father figure, would like to overturn his social status and his family’s economic milieu exploiting Sharon’s musical talent and turning her into a popular singer. While the man’s plan fails, the one who succeeds in it at the end is Sharon herself, physically departing from her family. In taking up her female autonomy Sharon effectively achieves a change of her life and for herself.

The film is unique for both the thematic approach and for the cinematic mode employed. As a contemporary female director, Luzi’s role connects Il cratere to the films of fellow woman filmmakers interested in coming of age stories that explore femininity in all its facets.[3] Affect is central to the narrative and visual sequencing of Sharon’s persona, and it not only drives the girl away from her home, but most importantly, strongly impacts the viewers. The directors’ innovative use of aesthetics gives the film its distinctive quality. The intimacy of Sharon and her spaces is portrayed with a 50mm camera which stays connected as much as possible with the characters and their reality, and strictly involves the spectator emotionally and physically. The directors’ use of non-professional actors, who mainly speak a strong dialect and who also share a father/daughter relationship in their real life, further strengthens the connection with the film’s viewership, in experiencing the girl’s authenticity. The“crater” Luzi and Bellino refer to, is a very luminous—yet almost invisible constellation: it is one of the 44 Ptolemaic constellations which has indeed the form of a crater. It is a vague constellation, that can exclusively be spotted in our hemisphere in Spring and from the south of the earth. It is only visible to the eyes of those who know what they are looking for. However, it is a constellation that exists, and whose light shines.[4] Sharon is Crater, a star that shines like every star has the power to do and is visible to those who want to see her true self. A less poetic and more geological meaning of the crater brings to mind the volcano, Vesuvius, that guards the city of Naples. The crater suggests a depressed area, that is capable of swallowing someone without the possibility of escape. Like a volcano’s crater, Sharon’s family whirlpools her in and traps her inside, and like Sharon also the viewers are emotionally swallowed up in her drama.

In the most recent years Silvia Luzi has continued to team up with Luca Bellino in creative projects as well as partnering in sharing the position of Visiting Professor at the University of Malta in the Department of Film Studies. They both have also collaborated with various international broadcasters such as NHK, SVT, Press TV UK, The Guardian, Journeyman Pictures. Luzi’s latest work is a videoclip accompanying the single Povero tempo nostro (Our Poor Time, 2019) by writer and singer Gianmaria Testa, and the opening credits for Festa del Cinema of Rome: Alice nella città.  

 

Filmography

La minaccia (2008)  Documentary

Dell’arte della guerra (2012) Documentary

Il cratere (2018) Feature Film

 

Bibliography


Bocconetti, Stefano. “Piccole storie di liberazione. Sharon che uscì dal Cratere” BookCiackMagazine http://www.bookciakmagazine.it/piccole-storie-di-liberazione-sharon-che-usci-dal-cratere/

Ciccioni, Luca. “Venezia74: Il miglior film italiano del festival” http://www.anonimacinefili.it/2017/09/12/venezia-74-il-cratere-un-folgorante-ritratto-degli-ultimi-recensione/
 

Gironi, Federico. “Il cratere, ovvero “spostare in là i discorsi sul realismo fino a frantumarli”- Parlano i registi Silvia Luzi e Luca Bellino” ComingSoon https://www.comingsoon.it/cinema/interviste/il-cratere-ovvero-spostare-in-la-i-discorsi-sul-realismo-fino-a-frantumarli/n77218/
 

Parrella, Valeria. “Il talento di Sharon, fiore di periferia,” La Repubblica https://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2018/04/11/il-talento-di-sharon-fiore-di-periferia40.html
 

Petkovic, Vladan “Dell’arte della guerra: la guerra tra capitalismo e umanità” CineEuropa https://www.cineuropa.org/it/newsdetail/257256/
 

Silvestri, Roberto. “Nel cratere del realismo” IlCiottaSilvestri http://ilciottasilvestri.blogspot.com/2018/04/cratere-non-reale-ma-inverosimile.htm
 

TFilm Production http://www.tfilmprod.com/index.php?lang=it

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[1] https://www.cinemaitaliano.info/pers/013282/silvia-luzi.html

[2]See Vladan Petkovic’s review: “Dell’arte della guerra: la guerra tra capitalismo e umanità” CineEuropa, https://www.cineuropa.org/it/newsdetail/257256/

[3] In the current Italian cinema, some independent female directors have been showing an increased interest in portraying women in opposition to traditional gender and social norms. Wilma Labate, Costanza Quartiglio, Susanna Nicchiarelli, Alina Marazzi, Roberta Torre, Alice Rohrwacher are just a few representatives of this courageous group of female filmmakers breaking new boundaries to explore femininity in all its facets. These daring women filmmakers are by now canonical auteurs distinguished precisely for their forefront cinema centered on the exploration of female characters.

[4] 4 See Valeria Parrella, LaRepubblica: "Il talento di Sharon, fiore di periferia" http://www.cultframe.com/2018/04/il-cratere-film-luca-bellino-e-silvia-luzi/