The D’A Award, for the moment, is in the hands of two international filmmakers of disproportionate talent. They are Céline Sciamma and Alice Rohrwacher. The award ceremony for the Tuscan filmmaker took place last Tuesday at the Teatre del CCCB. The director of the Festival, Carlos R. Ríos, was in charge of revealing the surprise that put Alice on her knees on the floor, to the astonishment and laughter of the packed auditorium: Sergi López burst into the room to meet again with the woman who had directed him in Happy as Lazzaro. The hugs were effusive. With a “silly” (sic) Italian, López showered all possible praise on Rohrwacher and presented her with the honorary award. “You are my idol,” confessed an amused and excited Rohrwacher.

The atmosphere calmed down with the entry of critic Manu Yáñez on stage, with a zen presence and stoic smile, who praised the empathetic dimension and refusal to judge the characters in her films. What has fueled that gaze, that moral compass? Rohrwacher recognizes that she comes from outside cinema: her references are found in painting, literature… In short, in humanism. “I have a lot of curiosity and love for human beings. But my films do have a very strong political judgment: it has to do with the gears that keep us imprisoned.” In this sense, Happy as Lazzaro was a “small” subversion of hers to turn the “hero’s journey” around. It is the story of a character who does not change, since “goodness is linked to being, not to doing; and it does not change: every time it dies, it is reborn,” like that Lazarus of the film. Alice Rohrwacher defends, faced with the condescension of the producers (“who despise the public”), compassion towards the characters, as in the great myths, instead of the widespread pretension of American cinema, which wants the public to identify with them. Rohrwacher returns again and again to talk about myth, about mythology, about the very fact of telling fables or legends: “The notion of the spoiler humiliates me. I would like to make films where the whole story is already known. When we know a tale, as children, we want it to be told again, anyway.” She immediately takes us to a mythical imaginary of the craftsmanship of tales and Yáñez asks her about the analogical matter in her films: “I am a daughter of digital. For me, the new technology was analog. In Corpo celeste it was the first time I worked with a living material. Like bees, you can’t cage it.” Alice shies away from the obsession with control of the contemporary world. Precisely, she honors the mystery of the myth, or rather the mystery that the myth preserves. She reminds the entire audience (“I want to make films that make us remember things”) that destiny, in myth, implies giving up will. Again, a neutralizing message of the can-do-anything-you-want American ideology. “The most exciting thing that can happen to you is to see through the eyes of another. Myth allows us to be foreigners.” When we review them, we realize that they let us know, above all, that civilizations do finish: “We will see capitalism in the museum, I can’t wait!” These socioeconomic forces are the magma of her cinema, often set at the end of the 20th century, when for the first time in five thousand years the countryside has been abandoned, or the entire Etruscan tombs, as we see in The Chimera, have been looted. “I feel compelled to talk about these decades.” Yáñez puts on the table the strong influence of Berlusconi’s politics in the Italy and Europe of this great decline and Rohrwacher, avoiding any ad hominem, emphasizes: “There has been a genocide of the imagination. It has been colonized and the ability to desire has been removed from the heart.”

As she said at the beginning of the dialogue, the Tuscan filmmaker comes from outside cinema, with studies of classical Greek and the history of religions. For her, the cinema is a square where a party is celebrated and where so many streets that she loves lead to. When Rohrwacher glimpsed its history—which she immediately recognized—when she did us the favor of starting to make films, the square became more beautiful, more compassionate and more common: “The cinema I love is the one that comes from an author and becomes everybody’s”.


Marc Barceló Tost
Marc Barceló Tost

Cinematographic journalist for the Sant Sebastià Festival newspaper, he is a programming advisor for Un Impulso Colectivo - Short films, as well as a photographer, short film maker and artistic curator. He has trained at Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola and ESCAC.