Mike Fishman recently sat down with Alberto Caviglia to discuss the Italian filmmaker’s latest film, the comedy mockumentary Pecore in Erba, English title Burning Love. (See Mike’s review of the film HERE). Exceprts from their conversation follow.
Mike Fishman (MF): Where did the idea first come from to make a film about anti-Semitism? Has anti-Semitism been on the rise in Italy?
Alberto Caviglia (AC): The idea of Burning Love arrived after quite a long time in which I was questioning myself and looking for a new way to talk about anti-Semitism. My research began because I started to feel that the common ways of telling stories about anti-Semitism were losing their impact because prejudice is so pervasive and because I think it is a very delicate theme with many taboos. I don’t know if anti-Semitism is rising in Italy, but I think it is evolving and we need to be careful and aware to recognise its different shapes.
MF: Why did you decide to make a comedy, and at that, a mockumentary? Were there certain jokes or areas of humor that you decided not to explore during the writing or filming? Were there scenes or moments that you filmed that you decided to leave out of the finished film?
AC: I think that using a satirical point of view, it was something that could make this film different because I wanted to use comedy as a weapon to face anti-Semitism instead of using it just for laughs. I didn’t want to have limits but at the same time I was aware that I had to be very careful using satire with such a delicate theme. I cut some scenes at the end of the shooting, but only because I wasn’t happy about how they come out or because I considered them superfluous, and never because they were “too much.”
MF: What has the reaction been like? How have Jewish audience members in general reacted?
AC: Reactions were really different, including in italy at the many screenings that I attended. I was happy to see people understood the main intent (and humor) of the film abroad, in France, Russia, Sweden, and also Germany where people seemed very struck by the film. Jewish audience members have felt the most direct emotional impact but I think they also mostly enjoyed the movie. They are so involved in the topic that it is almost impossible to have an impartial discussion about the film with them.
MF: How did you fund the film? How long was the shoot? Were there particular challenges to making a mockumentary?
AC: The shooting lasted about 5 weeks. It was very intense because I had about 340 scenes in the script. It was really hard to shoot all of them and in some cases I had to give up if I wanted to repeat different takes because otherwise I would never get through all my scenes. Post-production as well was a real challange in order to finish it in time for the Venice Film Festival. I edited it with my editor Gianni Vezzosi in less than one month and a half, working day and night…I think we needed at least one more month but we did a kind of miracle finishing it on time!
MF: What is the status of the film? Has it been picked up for distribution and will it run in theaters? Do you have plans to stream it?
AC: We don’t yet have any foreign distribution and I hope to find that. In the meantime, the movie is on iTunes and it is available on DVD (https://www.amazon.it/Pecore-Erba-DVD-Davide-Giordano/dp/B01FOSM33Y). It would be really nice to have it streaming as well. I will let you know.