Interview with Roberta Torre

EWA Network meets Roberta Torre


Simona Nobile interviewed Italian director Roberta Torre (“Angela”, “Tano da morire”, “Mare Nero”) on the occasion of her film’s theatrical release in Italy.

Roberta Torre’s latest feature film “Riccardo va a morire” (“Bloody Richard”), which premiered at the Torino Film Festival 2017, injects musical and visionary elements in Shakespeare’s play “Richard III”. Set up in the ruthless non-realistic underworld of a Roman suburb run by criminal gangs, this timeless story of dysfunctional family ties, thirst of power and revenge is strongly imbued with surreal, tragicomic elements and is extremely interesting for its daring visual approach.

How did this feature project start?

After directing Shakespeare’s “Richard III” at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan in 2014, working with actors and psychiatric patients, I felt I wanted to continue to explore this tragic villain’s story but using the musical genre, contaminating the original text with contemporary music and songs and setting up the story in a non-realistic underworld. Producer Paolo Guerra was immediately enthusiastic about this idea. Singer/actor Massimo Ranieri, who plays the lead role, immediately accepted this challenge, exactly like actress Sonia Bergamasco who plays Riccardo’s manipulating Queen Mother – an aged femme fatale that controls her crazy family.

Can you tell us a bit more about your approach to the original material and your personal vision?

First of all I wanted to enhance the female characters, having them take action instead of being simply spectators, scheming against Riccardo and not simply cursing. In my idea mother and son are engaged in a personal destructive war, cutting off parts of each other’s body. Madness permeates both the upper world and the claustrophobic underworld, which is inhabited by Riccardo’s allies, a group of faceless freaks that spy on the conversations of Riccardo’s family members in the upper world. I wanted to convey the idea of the monster’s presence, using rubber masks that hide the characters’ identities. A thorough work on the original text has been carried out, and it’s incredible how contemporary Shakespeare’s words still sound and how my actors’ performances made them resonate.

Did you find any difficulty in developing and producing such a film?

Production-wise it’s been a wonderful experience. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve, the press and the audience have loved the movie but it was probably not easy for the distribution to market such a movie since there are no similar parameters in the Italian panorama.

How do you envision the future of female directors in Italy?

There is a new interesting generation of female directors in Italy and it’s quite different than 20 years ago when I started. I think it would be very important to create a common ground and space of cooperation, but our market is very competitive and everybody struggles to get her/his own space so there’s hardly time and energy to do that. If you had asked me twenty years ago about quotas for female directors, I would have said no, but today I see that as a chance. But aside from quotas I think it’s important to have similar opportunities. For example why shouldn’t a female director be given the possibility to direct a horror or a western? Why should she only direct movies that deal with female topics? I mean there are great female directors that do that but let’s try to get out from the usual stereotypes. We really need to promote talent and ideas, we need to have farsighted policies that facilitate the access but we also have to bypass those dynamics that are not quality-driven and that don’t sustain a healthy competition.

What are your new projects? Any resolutions for the near future?

I’d like to develop a TV series. It’s a type of format I want to explore, who knows maybe even in another country… I think it’s really time for directors, for female directors to give ourselves the tools to be more independent. Let’s empower ourselves and let’s find ways to produce our own movies.