• Sebastian Mann

Tell Us About You - An Interview with Director Luca Caserta

Image credit: Luca Caserta

Review writer Sebastian Mann chats to Luca Caserta, the creative mind behind new dramatic short film Tell Me Who I Am.

Mostly, your short films have been horrors. Where did the inspiration come from for the more dramatic Tell Me Who I Am?

Actually, before moving to cinema, I worked in theatre both as a playwright and director. I grew up in a family of artists and actors and only at a later time I moved to study filmmaking at the Cinema Academy of Cinecittà in Rome. I made many theatrical plays, dealing with different genres, from dramatic to comic to social and civil commitment: I’ve always tried to use the genre as a metaphor to express concepts in the subtext.

The short films Inside the Mirror, Out of the Depths and The Other Side of the Moon, that precede Tell Me Who I Am, are part of a ‘trilogy on the double’ and recall psychoanalytic themes which I had already faced in some of my theatrical plays, that is the analysis of what’s hidden behind the appearances and the investigation of the ‘monsters’ that can lurk in the deepest part of the human soul and, sometimes, emerge.

Tell Me Who I Am in fact refers to these themes, because once again there’s the analysis of what’s hidden behind the appearances: the protagonist is indeed a woman who lives like a homeless person after having suffered a rape that made her lose her memory and left her in a daze.

Image credit: Luca Caserta

Tell Me Who I Am received funding from Nuovo Imaie. What was it like working with a bigger budget, and did it give you more freedom in your approach?

The film is produced by Nuove Officine Cinematografiche and was partly financed by the Nuovo Imaie of Rome, so the budget was relatively larger than usual. However, this hasn’t affected my creative freedom, because I’ve always been artistically free during the making of both my previous movies and this one. I’m also used to working quickly with small budgets, but definitely keeping an eye on high level production standards.

In the case of Tell Me Who I Am, as well as in some of my other shorts, in addition to director and executive producer, on the set I also was cinematographer, camera operator and, during the post-production, editor of the film, because I was interested in challenging myself in different roles and experiencing on the field what I had studied.

Image credit: Luca Caserta

This is your fourth collaboration with Elisa Bertato and the first time you have shared co-writing credit with her. Can you talk us through the process of writing the film?

Elisa Bertato is an eclectic and versatile actress, a creative person. She manages just fine to put herself in very different characters. We had a great time writing together, even if it’s not actually the first time: we’ve already written the story for a thriller feature for which we are looking for a production. For Tell Me Who I Am, we started from the news (a woman disappeared from home, who unfortunately turned out later to have been killed by her husband). Moving from this spark, we wrote the story and then the screenplay. This also allowed us to work in advance on the main character who would be played by Elisa. We were interested in dealing with delicate issues, such as the loss of memory, the search for one’s lost identity and dignity, the violence against women and the attention to the people who live on the margins of society.

We shot the film in the outskirts of Verona, my hometown: those crumbling and lonely places become another character in the movie and metaphorically reflect the protagonist’s state of abandonment and mental confusion. We’re really happy for the journey that the short is making in the festivals, where it has obtained over one hundred international awards around the world in almost all artistic and technical categories - as well as for the humanitarian, social and civil commitment of the film. We’re happy and honoured about it, because the juries understood these aspects of our work and made it possible to bring these important issues to the attention of a wide audience.

Having now completed your sixth short (and fourth narrative) film, do you have any plans to direct a feature-length film?

Yes, I’ve got various stories ready, two of which are fantasy features, and also the one for the above-mentioned thriller, in addition to the script for a very intense drama feature. As I said before, I like to move between genres and I don’t like to set myself limits. I’m looking for interested film productions, including foreign ones.

Are there any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I’m trying to finish a documentary that has had a rather troubled productive path and which I care a lot for the message it can instill in the new generations. It’s titled Mariska and tells the story of a Venetian partisan woman who fought against Nazi-fascism on the Asiago plateau during the World War II.

More information on Luca’s work can be found at www.lucacaserta.com.