10th Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival
International Competition
Francesca Giuffrida
Mentre Dormi / While You're Sleeping
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Anna, a famous fifty-old cellist, takes care of her husband Giovanni, in a coma for one year. One day she decides to try a software that lets patients live their unconscious desires when connected to their brain. Thanks to the software, virtual reality becomes the chance for a second life. However, something unpredictable emerges from the experience, because inner desires can be inexpressible. While Anna wonders what her husband feels, Giovanni lives a crisis derived from confusion between real and virtual life.

Hi Francesca thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

Hi Niger, thanks to you for this interview. In these difficult times I try to carry on my projects and my work in the hope that everything will not be blocked. The fear is there, but I try not to be overwhelmed.

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Yes, I was able to concentrate on writing a new short film and now I'm looking for a production to bring it to life. I have had time to see many more films than usual and this is life blood for creativity. And I concentrated on pre- paring a small video portrait on a well-known art critic that I am shooting these days.

Congratulations on having Mentre Dormi selected for this year's Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of films?

Thank you very much! It's the first time that I’m in an international competition of this caliber and I am excited, the whole crew is excited for this selection. Being part of this selection and being one of the two Italians in the com- petition is already a victory for me.

Mentre Dormi

Mentre Dormi is in the International Competition, does this add any additional pressure on you?

Surely this puts additional pressure on me, precisely because my short film and that of my colleague from the Centro Sperimentale di Roma are the only two Italians in the midst of a selection of the best schools in the world, so in a certain sense I represent Italy in this event and this puts some anxiety. But at the same time it's a fantastic opportunity and I want to fully enjoy it.

Can you tell me a little bit about Mentre Dormi and how did this film come about?

The film was born from an idea of my screenplay colleague, Mattia Ghiselli, and the script was then co-written by him with another screenwriter, Federico Melia. For a while we rewrote the script together, then when the film started I put a lot of my own into both the script and the story. The script then matured when I worked with the lead actress, which brought depth to the character. “Mentre dormi” is a film about the unconscious desire, which sometimes does not coincide with the life we build for ourselves, and speaks of betrayal, not the relational one but the deepest one, the betrayal of trust.

What inspired this screenplay?

The screenwriter told me he was inspired by the story of a woman close to him. Our school each year presents students with a theme and our graduation year was “betrayal”. I personally was inspired by a film that left its mark on me, Andrew High's "45 Years" with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.

Did you face many challenges bringing this film to life?

The magnificent team that I had helped me a lot and above all the director's tutor, Carlo Sigon, encouraged me to carry on the film I had imagined, despite the difficulties encountered on a school film, that is low budget and all students at the first set experience. The biggest challenge was finding good actors who would lend themselves to acting in a school movie and so the ca- sting took much longer than the timing allowed.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

Certainly many things, because you never stop improving. Above all, I think that the anxiety of keeping everything under control on my first film made me slow my visual freedom a bit and I wish I had followed instinct more with my eyes closed, having left more freedom to the actors. But it will be for the next movie!

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I have always had a passion for cinema, since I was little I have been watch- ing films ... and up to 7 years ago I wanted to be an actress, in fact I studied acting for many years. But I gradually realized that I was more interested in being behind the camera. Acting brought me to directing, which is where I feel at home. Working with actors is what I love most about this profession.

" The biggest challenge was finding good actors who would lend themselves to acting..."

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

"Less is more" and "Don't stay in your comfort zone". My directing teacher Marina Spada gave me these two fundamental teachings. I carry them with me every day, trying not to betray them.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Sure. Otherwise the cinema stops and gets old.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

I don't think I have the experience yet to be able to give advice to other colleagues. Only one, which in reality I give to myself: never give up.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Mentre Dormi?

I hope they can enjoy watching the film for 20 minutes and relate to it. It would already be a great satisfaction.

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