RITRATTI - MARIO RIGONI STERN
Italy / 1999 / 55'
Over a period of three days Mario Rigoni Stern tells Marco Paolini about his life.
The first day, after a short introduction about the sentimental education of a child brought up in the mountains, is totally dedicated to his youth between 1939 and 1945, as a soldier in Second World War. The second day is dedicated to the time he returned home and his difficult reintegration into daily life. He talks about the Asiago highlands as an emblematic place, total microcosm, of which Rigoni Stern represents the voice and conscience. The third day, answering Marco Paolini’s questions, Mario Rigoni Stern reflects on our present time, talking about nature, memory and responsibility, of the joy derived from a job well-done, whether manual or intellectual. This portrait is also the story of an encounter between an experienced man who has lived a long life and a younger man who lives in modern times but needs to understand what has happened in the past.
“Mario Rigoni Stern has lived through this past century as an Homeric character, with the same patience, courage and hope in a project. He sees and appears as pure as snow with the same clarity, the same whiteness. He is a mountain man, used to walking, and by walking he has travelled through this tormented continent. As a legendary father he has had a sense of responsibility and high moral values. He has never abandoned anybody along the way, whether they were friendly or enemy soldiers, or just people lost in the mountains. He carried them on his shoulders and took them home.
What he couldn’t take back, he has decided to narrate, in order not to forget it.”
He was born in Padua in 1956. After his studies at DAMS (Show, music and art disciplines School) of Bologna and lively experiences in the cine club circles of Bologna, he made his first film in 1979, a 16mm medium-length road movie Vagabondi. After a while he moved to Rome where he worked as a writer on television programmes. On that occasion he met the film-maker Gabriele Salvatores with whom he collaborated on the screenplay of Marrakech Express. In 1985 with his friend Franco Bernini he wrote the script for Notte Italiana, which two years later would be made into a film, thanks to the support of Sacher Film and Nanni Moretti, working for the first time as producer.
With the film Il prete bello (1989), taken from the homonymous novel by Goffredo Parise, the director dealt with the subject of poverty. In 1992 he made Un'altra vita and in 1994 he shot Il toro (Silver Lion in Venice and Volpi Cup to Roberto Citran). He met with critical success with Vesna va veloce (1996), which was followed by L'estate di Davide (1998). In 1999 he set up "Ritratti" with Marco Paolini, a collection of dialogues with outstanding Veneto cultural protagonists (Andrea Zanzotto, Mario Rigoni Stern and Luigi Meneghello). In 2000 he presented La lingua del santo at the 57th Venice Film festival. After A cavallo della tigre (2002), a remake of a 1946 comedy by Luigi Comencini, the Paduan director dealt with themes of love in L'amore ritrovato (2004). If in the last two films he showed a more intimate interest in the past, in 2007 the director went back to his origins in a North-East village where he narrates a thriller conveying contemporary social disruption, in La giusta distanza.