Con il fiato sospeso, Costanza Quatriglio, 35′, Italia 2013
Stella attends Pharmacy at University. For her graduation thesis she’s integrated in a research group. As the time goes by she realizes that there’s something wrong with the chemistry labs. The environment is insalubrious, somebody is getting sick, but the professors talk about coincidences. Inspired by the biographical memoire- denunciation by Emanuele, PhD in University of Catania at University of Catania, dead of lung tomour in 2003.
Cinema Primavera, saturday 30th april 16.30, sunday 1st may 19.00
Title Con il fiato sospeso
Director Costanza Quatriglio
Screenwriter Costanza Quatriglio
DOP Sabrina Varani
Sound Gianluca Scarlata
Editing Luca Gasparini, Letizia Caudullo
Video and sound post-production In House
Music Paolo Buonvino
Cast Alba Rohrwacher, Michele Riondino, Anna Balestrieri, Gaetano Aronica
Produzione/Production Jolefilm, Costanza Quatriglio, con la collaborazione di Ines Vasiljevic e in collaborazione con Istituto Luce Cinecittà
Distribution Istituto Luce Cinecittà
Festival 70. Mostra internazionale d’arte cinematografica di Venezia – Fuori Concorso 2013, Salina Doc Fest 2013, Visioni Fuori Raccordo 2013
Stella attends Pharmacy at University. For her graduation thesis she’s integrated in a research group. As the time goes by she realizes that there’s something wrong with the chemistry labs. The environment is insalubrious, somebody is getting sick, but the professors talk about coincidences. Stella’s friend Anna, who left the studies to play in a indie-punk band, would like to stop Stella to spend whole days at the lab. But Stella doesn’t want to give up with her own dreams. From incredulity to the every certainty’s loss: her story intersects with a young PhD’s diary, who traversed the way in which Stella will bump into. Inspired by the biographical memoire- denunciation by Emanuele, PhD in University of Catania at University of Catania, dead of lung tomour in December 2003.
In December 2008 I was moved by a short news about the seals’ application to the University of Catania University of Catania labs, because of the suspect of environmental pollution. There was something more: it has been found a biographical memoire- denunciation by a young PhD at the same department, dead of lung tomour in 2003, five years before the labs’ requisition. In this journal Emanuele, 29 years old, had reported insalubrious work conditions in not suitable to scientific research rooms: unfunctional extractor fans; lack of openings and aeration in spaces in which chemical and carcinogenic substances were used on the counters, conserved in rusted fridges or disposed of sink’s sewer; very toxic fumes inhaled every day by students and PhDs. After the requisition’s news, many other dead or ill PhDs’ and technicians’ stories came out. It look like a novel by Leonardo Sciascia. The trial against the department managers, charged with environmental pollution and non authorized landfill, revealed reports, that, already in 2005, talked about contaminations from mercury, zinc, arsenic, lead, nickel and tin, found in higher percentage than a petrolchemical industry.
My personal journey around that matter has started on that December 2008. I attended other departments’ chemistry labs, to decode Emanuele’s journal and try to understand the range of the story I wanted to tell. Years of documentary research, meetings and questionnaires to researchers at some Universities. It’s a portrait of obsolete environments, in which young researchers can be emotional blackmailed, to not give up with their passion and dream. A world of paradoxes. The story of young university students, obliged to study and research in insalubrious and noxious chemistry labs, is for me, the metaphor of Italy as the Country that devours its own sons. In Stella’s story happens the highest betrayal and we all have to manage with a elder and elder Country, unable to plan its own future.
Stella is a fictional character, a summery of several lives. What moved me in the original story was that students from the entire region go to study at the University of Catania. So it’s emblematic, how cruel can be the betrayal endured by whom gives custody of his sons to the institution of University. In this film music is very important. This has been my way to pay homage to the city that has inspired this story, Catania, a city with a strong electronic music tradition, nicknamed as “the small Seattle”, because of the USA music influences. This suggestion gave birth to Anna’s character, a friend of Stella, an indie musician, who had refused the University’s reasons, to dedicate herself to the music. Anna loves chemistry, but she can say no. She conducts a very important dramaturgical function, because through her we get involved with this pasty and contaminant story. Music is an universal and precious language to chose and keep. Exactly like chemistry. That’s what I’ve learned from whom really loves chemistry.
I chose after which language I had to use for the film.
Why a fiction film
Every filmmaker, in his/her own activity, experiments continuosly what is the limit, beyond which what you want to narrate becomes vague, unfilmable. In documentary film, the unfilmable is exactly that threshold dividing the public speech that a witness want to do and share, and his own intimacy, that’s inviolable. On the facts told in Con il fiato sospeso (Bated Breath), the perception of this limit pushed me since the beginning to require a mise en scene, a script, a work with actors. Also that between fiction and documentary film is a threshold, so I’ve worked on this different limits to conceive the film. I asked myself how much I wanted to represent without a mediation a father’s and a mother’s grief for their son’s death; how much this representation in a documentary film crushed the meaning of the narration and became unmanageable to the audience or even repulsive, falsifying about the main meaning, that a film has to consider, even when tells a micro-story.
So the disorientation, the grief performed by an actress or actor can be the everyone’s grief, can legitimately transcend that particular human event and become something extremely embraceable.
I decided to use the documentary film’s most usual and recognizable mean, the interview, made available to a fiction film. The direct deposition of Stella, performed by Alba Rohrwacher, allowed myself to go in and out two different genres, giving to audience by the language, not only a consideration on grief, but on cinema, too. A contamination, that gave me the occasion to go the whole hog a thinking, born with L’isola, that I’ve conducted for the the last years. Also here there’s a continuos dialogue between reality details, put in fiction context and vice versa. This dialogue inspire a dramaturgy, result of a powerful relationship with the milieu, whose point of view is much essential as the need to tell this story.
Palermo, 1973. After a degree in law, she attended Centro Sperimentale per la Cinematografia and graduated in Direction. She made a debut with the awarded fiction film L’Isola, shown in Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at Cannes film Festival in 2003. In 2012 Terramatta, shown in Venice days at Venice Film Festival, won the Nastro D’argento for the best documentary film. Con il fiato sospeso (2013), shown out of competition at Venice Film Festival, won the Gillo Pontecorvo Prize and a mention at Nastro d’Argento, thanks its mix between several language’s film genre. In 2014 she directed the episode Il Girotondo in 9×10=Novanta, realized for the Archivio Luce’s 90 years and shown during the Venice Days. In the same year she directed Triangle, that won the Cipputi Prize at Torino Film Festival and Nastro d’Argento. Her last documentary film is 87 ore (2015).
She’s one of the founder of Scuola d’Arte Cinematografica Gian Maria Volonté, a public and free film school based in Rome and she’s part of the board of Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia based in Sicily, Documentary section.
87 ore (2015), Triangle (2014), 9x 10= Novanta (episodio) (Con il fiato sospeso (2013), Terramatta (2012) Il mio cuore umano (2009), Migranti in cammino (2008), Il mondo addosso (2006), Raiz (2004), L’Isola (2003), Racconti per L’isola (2003), La borsa di Helene (2002), L’insonnia di Devi (2001), Il bambino Gioacchino (2000), Ècosaimale? (2000).