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Calcinculo, a kind of sisterhood

Chiara Bellosi, already author of the dramedy Palazzo di giustizia in 2020, has come to the Berlinale again this year with her second feature, Calcinculo. Benedetta (Gaia Di Pietro), a shy 15-year-old who is harassed by her mother Anna for being overweight, finds refuge in the caravan of her new friend Amanda (Andrea Carpenzano), a young man with a fluid sexual identity and a dissolute lonely life. We met the director to talk about the many threads that run through the film.

Your debut film, Palazzo di giustizia, was based on your own script with more characters and many narrative plots. For your second feature, however, you adopted a script by Luca De Bei and Maria Teresa Venditti that is decidedly drier and more intimate. How did this choice come about?

It was a proposal from the Tempesta production company: it was a ready-made screenplay, I saw it as a gift. My imagination and my way of writing are completely different from those of the screenwriters, but I immediately looked for overlaps with the story and at a certain point I realized I began to love Amanda and Benedetta. I would have been sorry to leave them to someone else. Then, with the scriptwriters, we made some cuts and adjustments, but it all started from that feeling of affection.

Some characters have had their wings clipped in the past to fly towards their dreams, others have the hope that the magic will work sooner or later.

There is no one truly adult in the film. Even the parents have kept the core of the dream they had as children and which they constantly feed, even though they know it will not come true. Benedetta's dreams, on the other hand, are still confused because she is young, she’s only fifteen years old. She surely wants to feel free to be as she feels inside, not as she is seen by others, especially her mother.

Then comes Amanda, that for Benedetta is a kind of Lucignolo (Pinocchio's evil friend): Not just as an escape from an oppressive adult’s world but also as a symbol of transformation.

Yes, when we worked with Andrea we had Lucignolo in mind. However, Amanda never prevails, Benedetta predominates. Their relationship is a kind of sisterhood: there is a horizontal gaze between them, while the mother and the family have a 'vertical' gaze on Benedetta.

How did you help Carpenzano reach such a deep level of femininity?

We talked a lot about how we imagined Amanda. A person who came from a great solitude but grew up in a context of love. We imagined a mother who was incapable of following her, to the point of having her taken away, but who was funny and loving. Amanda in fact is empathetic and warm, even if she’s precarious. She probably finds in Benedetta a stable emotional anchor. They have a mutual need in common.


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