A conversation with Valentina Carnelutti: “The man without guilt”, giving oneself the possibility of forgiveness

The man without guilt by Ivan Gergolet is a painful film, the real protagonist is the conflict: surrounded by an inconsolable chorus, Angela (Valentina Carnelutti) has to take care of the “bastard” Francesco Gorian (Branko Završan), an entrepreneur who is hospitalized in the hospital in Trieste where she works. Angela has already lost a worker husband like her friend Elena (Rossana Mortara) and no one can really say they are safe: the asbestos that has impregnated the husbands’ overalls seems to have polluted her thoughts too. A complex first work, which however manages the emotional load with honesty and without rhetoric. We chatted and embraced the actress Valentina Carnelutti for you at Bif&st 2023.

Think of the Greek Tragedy…

It’s just like the Greek tragedy, yes, Antigone versus Creon…

Did you think about it during the process of building the character and the film?

I received an early version of the script many years before shooting it so the story entered my head as something that “I wonder if it will be done…”, like a seed that has remained planted there while I was doing other things. I’d be lying if I told you that I worked there for seven years… there were a few phone calls with Ivan [Gergolet, n. d. r.], he wrote several versions of the script. We shot at a very complicated time in my life: I was moving, I separated, I was sick, my mother wasn’t well and I was shooting two more films. I finished those and went to Trieste, where there was a real immersion in the story, complete, but without real preparation: we only had one day of rehearsals with Ivan, and only one morning with Branko, in which we tried the tango scene. A scene that appears only for a few seconds in the film, but which is fundamental. And having rehearsed and shot it first was important because a relationship of extreme trust was immediately created with the actor Branko Zavrsan without whom my character would not exist. I owe him gratitude and gratitude for the work he did: he allowed me to do my best. Meeting each other dancing, in a peaceful context, created complete trust between us, at which point we could stage war. If we had started shooting the film from the scenes where we collide, it would have been hell, because when you work on this material you need to build a collaborative relationship, first of all, one of complete and total trust. Even Ivan, after all, made me feel loved from the first moment. He gave me the opportunity to try, to make mistakes too, to go too far in one direction and then choose another knowing that you can always take a step back: try, risk, try again.

It’s a risky film, yes. Not only because it stages pain, but because it proposes the excruciating solitude of the protagonist.

I was very alone at that moment in my life and I have to tell you the truth: this profession is a luxury on certain occasions, but like all of life it is a luxury. All the things that happen to us can be seen in another way. I tell you a nonsense. My daughter was sick in the hospital when she was twelve years old, they told me she had a few days to live. She wasn’t real, she’s alive and well, she’s doing great, she’s gorgeous. In those hospital days I witnessed the love of people, the happiness of being alive as had never happened to me before. Believe me, it’s the same thing in a moment of great difficulty: [snaps his fingers, editor’s note] you get the opportunity to make a film, to have a character so full of pain, but above all of doubts: I take revenge, I don’t take revenge . Then we are talking about the possibility of forgiving. We are talking about peace, in a world that is constantly at war, in the smallest things, in the supermarket checkout line, up to Russia, to migrants who die in the water and the sea we have it here, before our eyes and you as we speak. There is the possibility of peace and this film is about this possibility. It’s a tragedy, it ends in death, but a death that brings with it a sense of forgiveness. It is justice: one can forgive when there is recognition of the error. And this acknowledgment does not necessarily pass through words. Maybe it goes through gestures.

And in fact, in this film, little is said, but a lot is thought and acted.

Yes. For example, Angela’s desire: how does she desire her enemy? My partner said to me yesterday: «I don’t understand this». But loneliness makes you love… even a spider that climbs up your leg feels like a caress.

Enemies are just unknown loves, I borrow a line from Pasolini’s tragedy Pilade.

Sure, but it’s knowledge. As soon as you know someone you love them more. In war the guilt is shared and if there is not one who takes responsibility, and the pain, and the agony, and the pain of forgiving and of saying: “Enough, enough, I’m not waging this war”. Angela could kill Gorian from the first shot she sees him. But she chooses to know him. “How do you sleep at night?”: putting a hand over his mouth would be enough to kill him. Instead she talks to him.

Here, the language: Angela speaks in Trieste.

Yes. I was shooting Margini [Niccolò Falsetti, 2022, n.d. r.]. Ivan calls me, I was on the other set: «You know, I thought we’re doing it in Trieste. Can Trieste speak to you?». Eh, no: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Tuscan, Milanese, Neapolitan… but not Trieste! [laughs editor’s note]. So I asked him to record the first lines for me and I asked the production: «Let me take the train, so in four hours I can keep everything on, I study and instead of flying for an hour, I can concentrate on the journey». Then I arrived there, a lovely crew, as soon as I had a minute’s break I asked everyone: «How do you say this thing?». I have an ear, it’s lucky, I speak many languages and I sing… but that’s how it actually went: like when they throw you in the water and tell you: «Now swim!».

About this prom scene: It’s the key scene in the movie. It could be a dream, a memory, an imagination…

Yes, a projection. You know, now I hug you like this [she hugs me, editor’s note]. I think about my daughter. I open my eyes and it’s you. It is this: you have contact, but it is the projection of a solitude. Because you could imagine yourself with anyone and instead she imagines her antagonist, her enemy. For me it is this. And look, behind you there really is a banner on the rocks, I only notice it now: it says Embrace me.

It’s in a moment of the film that breaks down a series of prejudices in the viewer, because it leads elsewhere: it’s a desire.

Yes, it is. Ivan was good because not everyone was convinced of this scene. Instead it shuffles everything: it’s not logical, it’s a mosaic film that adds up to another piece… but you never have the whole figure completely, not even in life. But why, if you discuss something with your partner, aren’t you always there to go back to things you’ve already said? The film is like this: it is the complexity. So either you choose not to tell the complexity in the cinema, it’s a choice, or you don’t have to be superficial. This film for me is an invitation to remain open to the possibility of change. True, Gorian is guilty. But there are other faults before his and if it hadn’t been him who occupied that place someone else would have occupied it. As for us: they tell us not to buy plastic bottles. Very well, I do it, I’m also a bit obsessive about this, I don’t buy plastic: but do we want to stop producing it? Do we want to make sure that everyone has free water? Do we want to deal with water pollution?

Speaking of forgiveness: young people seem to find it more difficult in the film to put their various faults in order, but they seem to succeed.

At eighteen, twenty you can be more moralistic than at forty or fifty, you are confronted for the first time with certain issues and you tend to see things black and white, I believe that the ability to grasp ethical nuances increases with the time and experience. But I think there is a new generation of 17- and 20-year-olds who are open, free, who question themselves and have a sense of reality and if they don’t forgive, maybe they’re right: it’s right not to forgive what my generation is doing to the planet. Because it is my generation that is wrong: the planet is running out, nothing else matters. Peace and the planet. Money doesn’t count, wealth doesn’t count, glory doesn’t count. What do you do with glory, a photo, the latest phone model when you have all your closest friends dead because they fell ill… I trust the new generation’s gaze, even for gender issues. I am fifty years old and I see in my peers this eagerness to remain attached to one’s own little power, this difficulty in listening, especially in those who have not remained in contact with subsequent generations. But also think about what happens in the Festivals: how much waste, the fashion, the very expensive clothes used only once. This top I’m wearing comes from a used shop called Bivio, these pants are old, a friend gave them to me, I found this black sweater in Cannes, abandoned, ten years ago. Recycle, barter, share, you can live like this.


Source (in italian): polytroponmagazine

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