What motivated you to focus on Lampedusa?
Me and the screenwriter, Ezio Abbate, wanted to tell a story about what was happening in the Mediterranean Sea. Ezio read a newspaper story about the tragedy of 3 October 2013, when 368 migrants died near Lampedusa. It was the biggest migrant tragedy ever heard. In that article, the journalist told the story through two different points of view: the first by the gravediggers and the second by coastguard divers. So Ezio wrote the screenplay and I said: “I like it, let’s do it!”
What did you wish to explore through the relationship between the two young men?
I wanted to tell two different points of view, two different ways of dealing with the tragedy. The coastguard diver knows exactly what he’s in for and therefore he is afraid, even if he’s been trained. But he wants to do it because it is his job. The young gravedigger, on the contrary, doesn’t know what he’s in for and he doesn’t care about it. But he changes when he sees the tragedy with his own eyes. At the end, when they meet again, they have grown. It’s a kind of descent into hell and back.
What do you hope the audience will take from it?
At the end of every screening the audience is totally silent. I like that sensation because I want the audience to think about what’s happening in the Mediterranean Sea where people die every day. And I expect that to happen at the end of the screening.
It is basically a silent film. Can you explain that choice?
It was an idea of Ezio, the screenwriter. It was a challenge because everyday, everybody was talking about migration, especially politicians, but nobody stopped to reflect on what was really going on. And, above all, nobody knew what was really going on. So we want to say: stop talking and watch our short film because the real problem is not migration but the people who die.
What would you want to explore in the future as a filmmaker?
I’d like explore society, the people and the tragedies of our time.
Are there any works of art or films that have inspired you?
There are a lot of films that have inspired me. I try to watch at least one movie a day and I think that in my works you can find pieces of different films. Paul Thomas Anderson and Pablo Larrain are two of my favorite directors and I try to “steal” from their movies as much as possible.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
I think that the short film format gives us the freedom to experiment with new forms of cinematographic language and the possibility to tell different stories. Smartphones and streaming are changing the way to watch a movie. The short film would seem to be the right format for the new generations but telling a story in just a few minutes is not so easy.