Director Marco Bellocchio between reality and fantasy

Italian director, screenwriter and producer Marco Bellocchio received the Honorary Prize at the 53rd edition of the Visions de Reale Documentary Festival. Keystone-SDA tells about his latest film and why the direct reality of his work isn’t enough.

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The basics in brief

  • Marco Bellocchio is the guest of honor at the Visions de Reale Film Festival.

On this occasion, his latest documentary “Marx Can Wait” (2021) was shown.

This award is “particularly important because it recognizes the precarious balance between fiction and documentary.” This was said by Marco Muller, former director of the Venice and Locarno Film Festivals, who was linked to his speech via a video link from Shanghai.

“I have received many awards for my work in my life, which means only one thing to me: What I do often is not immediately understood and appreciation only comes with time,” Bellocchio told Keystone-SDA news agency.

In fact, since his debut “Pugni in Tasca” (1965), Bellocchio’s filmography has been considered incompatible. The film won the Silver Sail Award at the time at the Locarno Film Festival in the same year.

Bellocchio has directed feature films and documentaries throughout his long career. He prefers neither one nor the other, but uses one and the other “according to the project”. “I have always been fascinated by instant reality. But that hasn’t been enough for me. So in recent years I have tried to mix so-called munitions with the images that I shoot often,” says Bellocchio. He found in it “structure and style”. For example, the director cites such films as “Buongiorno, notte” (2003), “Vincere” (2009) and “Marx can wait”. “It’s about connecting with images of the past.”

The film “Marx Can Wait” focuses on the suicide of his twin brother in 1968. On December 16, 2016, the director gathered his surviving siblings Bellocchio. The movie begins with these images. “Since then, my full attention has been paid to this absent guest.”

“The film is an attempt to understand, to discover something more than I did before,” Bellocchio says. “I was always the youngest in the family, but now I’m at a certain age,” he smiles. He was touched by his audience’s “very strong and emotional reactions” to the film, even though “I told a very personal story”. The audience is far from it. But perhaps “many of them find in the film the agony, fear and unhappiness also common in other families.”

Bellocchio asserts that he did not make this film as a therapy. But: “It definitely moved me, it revealed to me something I’d always looked at from a distance or through other people’s experiences or through the characters I’d been imagining.” In addition to the Bellocchio siblings, his two children, Pier Giorgio and Elena, also appeared in the film: “The story continues, including the questions they asked me during the film.”

In “Marx Can Wait”, Bellocchio incorporated several scenes from his previous films that are also related to family dynamics. Regarding the process, the director says that during the long clip he “gradually remembers this or that film that can somehow collect and represent what we are saying.”

Bellocchio also sees it as a distinguishing feature that “the characters’ sayings were sufficient, and their voices were clearer than they would have been if I had staged the episodes.” He cites his brother’s death as an example.

“The gym where the tragedy happened no longer exists, we have reconstructed one very similar in which I read this letter my brother Camilo sent me which I ‘forgot’.” Bellocchio describes this as a “hypoallergenic.” Because “behind this message was a request for help.”

“The moments in Bobbio were inspiring,” says the director, who was born in Bobbio in the northern Italian province of Piacenza. The director explains: “In the cinema, you imagine something and try to represent what you have experienced yourself in a complex and indirect way.” “Some answers, like ‘Marx can wait’, give you something real in return.”

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