Quando Michele Civetta racconta il suo modus vivendi, non può non tornare in mente quel verso di Benigni alla memoria di Federico Fellini, “come se fossen morte le albicocche”. Un uomo dall’immaginario antico, ancestrale, matematico, il regista e produttore Civetta attraversa il confine arte/vita come Chaplin nel suo punto di partenza cinematografico: circense, bimbo adulto, selvaggio, amante del “vagabondare vintage-psichico”, già ricco di riconoscimenti e di straordinaria umanità. Ha appena completato un video rock per un gruppo musicale di Sabaudia, che si chiama Rewild. Lui la definisce “una spassosa satira politico-sociale sui presidenti morti del nostro tempo”; un manipolo di anarchici con indosso maschere che riproducono i volti di Sarkozy, Michael Jackson, Obama, Berlusconi, compresa la testa lurida d’un porcello. Danno sfogo ad ogni forma di sciacallaggio per le strade di Roma, dilapidando il proprio capitale per locali di burlesque e strip bar. In cantiere, anche un cortometraggio (previsto per l’autunno) basato su A spy in the house of love di Anais Nin. “Lo girerò a Roma con un cast di attori internazionali. E’ la storia di una casalinga sessualmente repressa alla ricerca di un’evasione, un desiderio che si contrappone al senso di colpa sullo sfondo dell’era fascista. Sto poi mettendo in piedi un lungometraggio dal titolo Regular Boy, assieme ad uno studio francese (37 Orange) che potrebbe essere descritto come Qualcuno volò sul nido del cuculo ambientato nell’era grunge rock”.
Michele si descrive con queste parole: “Un’empia trinità di Padre, Figlio e Spirito Santo. La mia stessa natura è relativamente contraddittoria e rifugge diagnosi e stilemi. Credo che la verità abiti ancora al di fuori dell’aula di giustizia delle mie opinioni, di ciò che io reputi autentico”. La maggior parte dei suoi progetti filtra come un colino sogni perduti e realtà temporanee, perché “sono un nostalgico di natura, un appassionato di tutto ciò che è inattuale e anacronistico, di ciò che un tempo è stato costruito e che ore è distrutto. Ho la tendenza a vedere la vita in modo donchisciottesco, come un’odissea dell’immaginario. Non a caso, di recente a New York, mi sono fatto ipnotizzare da una donna che ha studiato sotto Carl Jung. Una delle domande che la terapeuta pone al paziente non appena quest’ultimo cade in trance è ‘quanto della tua vita trascorri nel passato, presente e futuro’. Di fatto, io vivo il 60% della mia vita nel passato. Reputo il tempo come un continuum ininterrotto di passato presente e futuro delineato in maniera costante. E’ solo l’immaginazione umana ad imporre una linearità od una temporalità a queste strutture di infiniti momenti sovrapposti, la realtà è una decisione creativa per tutti quelli che cercano di interpretare la loro ricerca del tempo perduto”.
L’intervista integrale a Michele Civetta.
What projects are you currently working on?
I just finished up a rock clip for a band from Sabuadia called Rewild which is a bit of a political romp imagine the film point break and the dead presidents reinterpreted by a group of anarchists wearing Sarkozy, Michael Jackson, Obama, Berlusconi and a pig mask robbing local pedestrians in the Roman streets and squandering the funds at a local burlesque strip bar. Nothing weve really seen happen lately. I’m also prepping a short film for the fall based on Anais Nin’s novella A spy in the house of love which I’m filming in Rome with an international cast, a story obsessed with the repressed sexual escapades of a housewife and her inner guilt set against a backdrop of the fascist era. Beyond that i am prepping a feature for the new yera called Regular Boy with the French film studio 37 Orange which is best described as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for the grunge rock era.
Who is Michele Civetta?
An unholy trinity of father son and holy ghost, you won’t be able to get a straight answer out of me on this one. Self nature is inherentently contradictory for diagnosis and I believe the verdict is still out in my courtroom of opinions.
How did you get the chance to work with Lou Reed, Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono?
I was real lucky to have met Lou when I first started directing in new York. I had a friend who introduced me to a vp at Warner Bros. at around the same time and when I learned that they didn’t plan to make a video for Lou’s new record Ecstasy I decide to pay for it myself from the money i had just earned directing a Dunkin Donuts commercial. I’ve always believed in reappropriating money into generating work you are proud of and in this instance the label bought the video back from me as Lou was ecstatic with the finished clip.
I started to collaborate with Sean as I was adapting a famous sci-fi novel called coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami into a film with Don Murphy and Wild Bunch, the book was Sean’s favorite novel so we decided to write a draft together and then he asked me to write and direct 10 short films for his new record Friendly Fire. Shortly after Yoko asked me to travel around Europe with her to create a documentary film chronicling her life story. We puddle jumped around Europe from Paris where she celebrated her 70th birthday at a concert I filmed at the Chatelet Theater to Berlin for an art exhibition and retrospective of John Lennon’s work to Iceland where Yoko was resurrecting a peace tower in Reykjavik to commemorate the message she and John had advertised to the world.
What for you was the biggest challenge in making the 42 films’ project?
Dealing with advertising company mentalities and the unrestrained vision of some of the most unadulterated film auteurs on earth was the real challenge. We premiered the films in Beijing China at the Museum of Modern Art before travelling to Cannes, Rome and other stops on the festival circuit unfortunately the nature of censorship is a greatly debated topic in China and as we had films that paraded and celebrated a dreamscape that surveyed the landscapes of everything from transsexuals, to pornography, autopsies, ceremonial black magic to child birth needless to say there was a bit of negotiating that had to go on. Thankfully Bacardi who sponsored the project knew they were out on a limb with us as this wasn’t a typical project and so they let us go the distance and In the end I was able to push through to have every frame of film originally edited by the directors screened without a hitch and no one was incarcerated thankfully all this while three out of the 42 directors prepared competition titles for Cannes.
What keeps your creative juices going?
I’m terminally compulsive and have a restless imagination and have to juggle a number of books, films or tv programs simultaneously. However my work now seems to be fueled more by events in my daily life reinterpreted through the myopia of imagination a kind of art gestalt therapy. All this and I do prescribe to Buñuel’s formula of a Martini a day to help lubricate the creative juices.
Would you please tell us how was working with René Ricard? Are you still friend?
René is one of the most acerbic madcap imaginations I have ever encountered. He is irascible the way a great Renaissance genius like Michelangelo or Caravaggio must have seemed to an ordinary person. Constantly staging fights and screaming for his own self amusement and tests for allegiance. As he is an expert in everything from art history to history, poetry, furniture to ornithology he makes for a fascinating recipe of inspirations and contradictions to work with. He also has been known to have a complex drug history ever sinc his days popping speed with Andy during his stint as a Warhol superstar and since anthologized in the Nan Golden photo aptly entitled Rene smoking crack.
I can thrive off of collaborating with eccentric strong willed personalities and will always remember the months I spent with René as amongst the most creatively fulfilling of my endeavors. I remember he refused to ever watch a final cut of the film as he said his vanity could never allow for him as an older man to see himself onscreen, he said it would be like an old silent film screen beauty encountering her work years later. He recited this story after an afternoon outing to watch Titanic in the theater where we were thrown out of the cinema after he named the period and design of every piece of furniture on the Titanic pointing out any historical accuracies screaming at the screen at the top of his lungs even as the ship went down.
Most of your projects are about lost dreams and temporary realities. How do you develop the look of your films or videoclips?
I am inherently nostalgic by nature, tending to find a halcyonic glory in things antique, vintage palaces once built and now destroyed. I also have a quixotic tendency to view life as a bit of an imaginary odyssey. With this in mind I recently was hypnotized in New York to quit smoking by a woman who trained under carl jung. One of the questions as you enter the trance state is how much of your life do you spend in the past present and the future and I realized that inherently this was an artistic choice when i answered 60% in the past. I believe that time is really an uninterrupted continuum of past present future laid out in a constant. It’s only the human imagination that imposes a linearity or temporality onto this structure of infinitely overlapping moments, really it is a creative decision for everyone how we choose to interpret our search for lost time.
Are you interested in fashion?
I’m interested in always being considered fashionable by friends and admirers. As for clothes they are great fetish, but i prefer to inherit wardrobe as gifts rather then add to the consumer commodification which is fueling what Michael C. Ruppert has so aptly titled the End of the Era of Petroleum Man!