Locarno Film Festival | 2019
"I was interested in the theme of initiation, trying to find in present times a correspondence with the "rites of passage" in use in ancient societies."


Dir. Davide Maldi

Concorso Cineasti del presente


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In a prestigious hotel school, Luca learns the art of service. How much of his own freedom and adolescence must the young man give up to work at serving customers?

Hi Davide, thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?

Thank you too! I'm fine, every time a job ends there is the desire and curiosity to show it around and see the various reactions and now all this begins.

What does it mean to you to be at Locarno Film Festival with L’apprendistato?

I'm very happy to be in Locarno with this film, it's a great opportunity. I have always followed the Festival and many of the directors I love have shown their films here, so for me it's a privilege. I am also happy because it is a satisfaction for all those who participated in the making of the film.

Does being in the Concorse Cineasti Del Presente at any additional pressure on you?

As I said before, it is a great opportunity and presenting a film in front of many people always brings some pressure. Cineasti del presente is a category with an important tradition, so for me it is also a responsibility.

Do you ever get nervous sharing your films with festival audiences?

Sometimes yes, but it's the rule of the game.

What is it about documentary as a genre that really interested you as a filmmaker?

I come from a fiction feature film, from a classic and narrative cinema. After some experiences as assistant director, when I was around twenty years old, I started to hate and deny the way a film is developed. Too many people and too much money spent unnecessarily many times. I started to approach the documentary to find a more free and personal form and style. Reality seemed to me more sincere than fiction and the non-classic documentary allowed me to experiment. I don't feel like a documentary director, but one who builds a film based on what already exists. In this way, the process that leads to the completion of a film becomes more and more experience, working in this way creates meetings and relationships that go beyond the cinema. I always try to ask myself what remains of the work I am doing? So the process for me is more important than the final result. 

Can you tell me a little bit about L’apprendistato, what can we expect?

L’apprendistato (The young observant) is set in a prestigious hotel institute, it is the story of the parable of the young Luca, a boy of fourteen with a wild soul, who must learn to contain his character and respect the rules of the world of work for the sole purpose to serve the clients.

What was the inspiration behind this film?

I was interested in the theme of initiation, trying to find in present times a correspondence with the "rites of passage" in use in ancient societies. Therefore I started searching for a real context in which a boy could be led to accelerate his growth process by learning a very demanding job: the hotel school seemed to me the perfect context. There I could observe closely those who choose to learn a profession defined by rules and discipline, subject to the strict laws of a job that is build on the sole purpose of serving customers.

I was also reading a small book written by Jonathan Swift at the end of the 18th century, Direction to Servants, an ironic essay of advice for young servants to survive in the court of an owner.

What was the biggest challenge you faced bringing L’apprendistato to the screen? 

For me it was important to keep human relationships alive so that the experience of making a film like this became important also for teachers and students. In jobs like this, poised between fiction and reality, it is difficult to immediately explain what you will do, but to do so you need full confidence and collaboration from everyone, especially because you move in the real life of others.

How important is the creative collaboration when making a film like this?

I have few but extremely important collaborators, without whom this film would not have been born. Micol Roubini, artist and director, helped me write the film. We started from an idea and then we looked for it in reality. Writing has accompanied the creation of the work overtime, we have always been open to the unexpected. This then was perfectly managed in the editing with Enrica Gatto. During the shoot I am alone, I take care of everything, even the audio, so in post-production I rely on a trio of sound designers who work incredibly well even in films like this, the audio is important and Stefano Grosso, Giancarlo Rutigliano and Marzia Cordò are masters in their work. The music was conceived by a duo of musicians e artists that I followed for years, Freddie Murphy and Chiara Lee, who usually didn't work for the cinema, for this reason, they added a different flavour to the film with much sought after sounds. Finally, the production is the fundamental collaborator, without which a film would not go ahead, realized together with the Invisible Film by Gabriella Manfrè and L'Altauro by me and Micol Roubini.

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

I started taking my first steps at seventeen, I hadn't finished school yet and I was following a director I knew bringing coffee to his sets. In Italy we say you are the last wheel of the wagon, well, I was this last wheel for years. I liked to draw since I was a child and so at the same time I started using drawing to learn how to make a film, I worked as a storyboard artist. I have loved the cinema since I was young, but I developed the idea of making films in the years when I became curious about something else that I decided to tell.

What was the first film you worked on?

I was the first assistant in a film called "a night" by Toni D’Angelo, in the 2005. Previously only short films. My first short film was in the 2006, called "Pasprefut".

Has your approach to your films changed much since your debut?

My job has changed a lot, at first I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do and how to do it. It took a long time. I didn't know how to translate the ideas I had in the movies.

Do you have any advice or tips for any emerging filmmakers?

Ideas, militancy and resistance. And always the same question: what remains of what I am doing?

And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from L’apprendistato?

some reflections on contemporary society and its relationship with adolescents

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