CANNES – In the wake of its domestic box office success, over 500k tickets sold, Nanni Moretti’s new film A Brighter Tomorrow, is in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. He describes the film as a work where he reveals himself completely in “a huge act of trust and love for cinema”. Commenting on the excellent theatrical success, Moretti said he was particularly pleased by the reaction of young directors who told him that A Brighter Tomorrow gave them faith in what can be done with film. “It happens to me too, when I see things: when a film makes an impression on me, I get home and immediately want to start working. If this film gives a younger director energy and trust in cinema then I am really pleased.”
The cast includes Mathieu Amalric, Barbora Bobulova, Nanni Moretti, Margherita Buy, Silvio Orlando.
An Italy-France coproduction – produced by Sacher Film, Fandango, Le Pacte, Rai Cinema – set in the Fifties and Sixties in the world of circus and cinema, the film shot in Rome for 14 weeks. As the story unfolds, the central areas of the capital can be seen in long sequences, as if Moretti is paying tribute, almost a declaration of his love. The film’s opening features Castel Sant'Angelo and Lungotevere, where painters drop down from the embankment walls to spell out the title A Brighter Tomorrow in huge red letters. Lungotevere features again with the Giacomo Matteotti Bridge section providing the background to the action film coproduced by the wife (Margherita Buy) of the main character Giovanni (Nanni Moretti), a well-known Italian director who is also shooting a new film. Piazza Mazzini is where Moretti and his French producer (Mathieu Amalric) ride scooters at night, circling the square several times as they discuss ideas, before heading off to Lungotevere and Pietro Nenni Bridge. The Imperial Forums star in the sumptuous, densely peopled final parade of the film; as do several streets in the Garbatella neighbourhood and the former bus depot in San Paolo. Part of the film was shot at Cinecittà Studios.
The set elements that provide some of the film’s locations, in particular the Quarticciolo neighbourhood where the Budavari Hungarian circus is invited by members of the Italian Communist Party, were made at Cinecittà. The imposing set was positioned in a large open area owned by Cinecittà on the Via Pontina in the outskirts of Rome for the entire duration of the shoot. The set included the tall ochre housing blocks, that perfectly recreate the look of the Fifties; on the ground floor, units housing the Italian Communist Party area committee office, a cigarette shop, and a grocery store. Scenes were also shot in Cinecittà Studios on Via Tuscolana, on the paths that flank the bar and Studio 8 and inside a soundstage. “Cinecittà is credited as a technical partner” notes producer, Domenico Procacci, “but it was actually a real alliance, more than a partnership. We worked really well together. We knew about the excellent quality of the work at Cinecittà because we previously built the Basilica of St Peters for Habemus Papam there.”
One of the most spectacular scenes of the film is the final parade where actors and key characters from past films by Moretti, who smiles in greeting into the camera at the end, walk with the circus performers, elephants and entire cast of A Brighter Tomorrow, beneath the flowing red flags of the Italian Communist Party. Moretti entertained the press by reading his messages with his producer, Procacci, about how the scene, shot at the Imperial Forums, came about. “The screenplay specified that the parade was set in the Imperial Forums, the producers noted this and reserved the location. We couldn’t shoot in early June because of the annual military parade (for Italy’s Republic Day ndr.) so we shot the scene towards the end of production: two days of shooting from the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia for this very complex scene with elephants and extras in Fifties costumes, which initially included only the three main characters of the film. I was very happy with it. I went on shooting at Cinecittà and in other interiors, then at some point I thought it would be great to have the entire cast of the film in the scene. I call Procacci and I convince him… good! Monday 21 June, the last day of shooting, I call all the actors to come to Via dei Fori Imperiali. I started editing over the summer. I like the scene but I wonder about including actors from my previous films. I call Procacci again, let’s shoot it again … excellent! I get back home and suddenly realise that I hadn’t called Giulia Lazzarini. Two days later, I text Procacci, begging him on my knees to add a part to the final. A minute later he texted back: I’ll be honest, for a moment there, I nearly fell for it! I replied: I’m not joking! He answered seven hours later… eventually we shot it again, this time with absolutely everybody!”
“That was the first time I won an award at Cannes” says Moretti, “and it was the first film where I played myself, it seemed absurd to hide behind a fictional character, especially in the episodes about my illness and riding my Vespa. It was also the early days of having a cinema theatre. In both films, both Caro Diario (Dear Diary) and A Brighter Tomorrow, there’s a lot of me.” The reference to Caro Diario (Dear Diary) (1994) is clear in the scene where the main character Giovanni/ Moretti rides a scooter – a more modern form of transport than the legendary Vespa of the earlier film – with the French producer (played by Mathieu Amalric) of the film he is shooting. In the background, the streets of a picaresque central Rome at night, with Piazza Mazziniclearly recognisable (“I have to shoot at least one scene at Piazza Mazzini in all my films”, Giovanni/Moretti tells his producer).
“I had a yellow jacket that I got from a second-hand store” remembers Moretti, “at the time evening dress wasn’t obligatory. I was totally and utterly unaware. It was the year that Olmi won for The Tree of Wooden Clogs. So very different from everything that came after. I didn’t have any idea of where I was or how significant it was to take part at the Cannes Festival. Then from Caro Diario (Dear Diary) onwards, things changed a lot …”
Giovanni, a well-known Italian director, is preparing to shoot a new film. But with his marriage falling apart, his French producer on the edge of bankruptcy and his daughter leaving him, everything seems to be going wrong! Constantly on a razor’s edge, Giovanni has to rethink his way of doing things if he wants to take his small world into a bright future.