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Workshop with Paolo Sorrentino

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, special guest of the 11th Küstendorf and the winner of this year’s Award for Future Films or Tree of LIfe, held a workshop for the students and Festival guests.

The talk began with a discussion about the relationship between modern television and film, i.e. the clash between streaming and cinema, and the consequences this could have on film. Cinema audience watching long, artistic films is completely gone, Sorrentino concluded and added that this is the reason why great directors both in the past and now transition to the world of television. However, the Italian director did not lament over large cinema audiences, and added that he never enjoyed mass cinema screenings, but preferred going to the cinema when there are very few people, because people can disturb you. Sorrentino favored an intimate concept of film, which he compared with the experience of reading a novel and concluded that this intimacy helps one see the advantage and the future of television.

The second part of the workshop, dedicated to questions from students and the press, was about Sorrentino’s poetics and the specifics of his world. You need to have a poetics, a universe, which is neither easy to have, nor easy to use every time you need it, said Paolo adding that humor is the ultimate focus and measure of his poetics as a whole. I always chose to do things that I think are funny ‒ this sentence sums up Sorrentino’s process. Sorrentino simply does not like films that take themselves too seriously.

Humor as an imperative is also crucial when choosing actors. He chooses them not for being good actors, but because he can share something with them, or simply because they are funny. At this point in the conversation, Sorrentino invoked Federico Fellini, with whom he shares full dedication to human face and to valuing human character as the supreme means of film expression and a herald of film emotion. Humor is such a great factor in Sorrentino’s process, that he even cited it as a motivation for avoiding rehearsals, because simply, rehearsals are not funny.

With a humorous and modest approach to any kind of hyperbole of both his own work and work on film in general, Sorrentino recommended students the boredom of editing as a source of creative approach to films they are making, and added that they should definitely find a boring editor.

The workshop was concluded with a talk about Sorrentino’s next film. The only information about the film, for now, is that it is about Silvio Berlusconi. Although he could not give details about the next film, Paolo stated that a love for characters is essential for making any film, including a film about Berlusconi. He said that he neither likes his politics nor his political ideas, but that he tries to like the man in him.