Cannes Film Festival
25th La Cinef Selection 2022
Il barbiere complottista
/ A Conspiracy Man
May 18, 2022
In a lower-class neighbourhood in Rome, there is a barber who believes in conspiracy theories. He is the laughing stock of his family but also at work. Nobody takes him seriously until he gets arrested by the police.
Hi Valerio, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
I try to always keep myself busy, working on many different projects at the same time.
How have you kept yourself motivated?
Reading books about conspiracy theories, informing myself continuously, reading the news, staying very connected to what is going on. In order to really capture the zeitgeist and make people aware of the issues that I think are really important and that people can empathize with, to open a dialogue and exchange ideas but mostly to tell stories.
I remained extremely close to my friends from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia ( The National Italian Cinema School based in Rome) who are also my work team and a second family. We inspire each other and continuously share our inspirations and projects.
My short film "Roman Nights" (2021) was nominated at the Settimana Internazionale della Critica in Venice and was nominated for "The David di Donatello Awards 2022", this gave me a lot of motivation and hope for the future of course.
Did you imagine you would get this type of recognition for your film?
It's not an easy question, we have to remain humble above all. The important thing for me is to share this victory with my team and to live this great moment all together. We always hope for the very best of course.
How much has your experience at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia helped to guide your approach and filmmaking style?
It taught me a lot on a practical and theoretical level, it gave me the chance to learn from my mistakes while taking risks and experiencing new things. It also gave me the chance to build a strong network, and to encounter people sharing my passion for the cinema world. The Centro Sperimentale gives you a very strong basis, it is a University after all, which gives an overview of the history of art, the history of cinema...You have to be ready to enter that School and start this journey, everyone is ready at a different life moment. I entered a bit later because I had other extremely useful experiences before (La Sapienza, internships etc).
What would you say have been the most valuable lessons you have taken from your time at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia?
My general knowledge of the cinematographic industry, theoretical and operational experiences, irreplaceable contacts: important names in the film industry, wonderful friends and colleagues, a second family and many opportunities. The Centro enables you to meet people who have the same objectives as you and you grow together with them, learning from mistakes, arguing and discussing.
Congratulations on A Conspiracy Man being selected for the 25th La Cinef, what does it mean to you to have your film part of this year's festival?
It is of course a great honour and a door that opens to great opportunities. It gives me the opportunity to meet film directors and people involved in the film industry from all over the world. It allows me to expand my network and learn from others. The international dimension is extremely enriching.
Can you tell me how A Conspiracy Man came about, what inspired your screenplay?
I decided to tell the story of an ordinary man who fell into the vortex of conspiracy theories. Through two days and one night in the life of a barber from a working-class neighbourhood of Rome, I tried to show how contagious these theories are and how infectious people are."A Conspiracy Man" is a small metropolitan tale, the story of a man and his obsessions'.
How close do you like to keep to your screenplay once you start filming, do you allow yourself or your actors much flexibility?
I am convinced that the relationship with the actors is extremely important and I try to give them as much freedom as possible, so that they can really embody the character. I apply myself a lot in the selection of the actors that I will look for in the most unlikely places, I have a very good intuition and I love that! However, directing a film requires a great deal of discipline and synchronized teamwork, so the flexibility is limited by the time given to us and the role each of us has to play.
When working on a film like A Conspiracy Man How important is the collaborative nature of filmmaking?
The collaborative nature is key, each of us has a very important role, the film would not be possible without one of us. We give energy to each other, and this energy is communicative. Sharing this victory with the whole team is the greatest reward.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
From a very early age, to offer people a safe haven, to allow them to escape, to disconnect from reality for a while. When you enter a cinema room, you have to switch off your phone and you completely disconnect from the outside world and you can escape your daily reality for a while and dream. But also to transmit important messages to inform the current and next generations and anticipate the future. Cinema remains an excellent means of conveying messages and has a real informative role as it’s accessible to almost everyone, around the world.
How much has your style and approach to your films has changed since your debut short?
I have certainly gained in professionalism through my experiences and my network of contacts has grown.
"I wanted to make people aware of the important dimension that a plot can take in a very short time."
Is there any advice or tips you would offer a fellow writer/director?
Believing in them, there is not only one way to become an excellent film producer. It depends on one's life experience, the encounters, the messages one wants to share. It's not really the studies that count, it's more the importance of the will, of the ambition and the desire to share a story. If someone has a story to tell and a real passion for cinema, anything is possible. However, today it is true that the diploma, the name of the school, helps, especially to get in touch with the right person (it was different for our parents' generation).
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from A Conspiracy Man?
It's a short film with an important message but very funny at the same time. I wanted to make people aware of the important dimension that a plot can take in a very short time. I tried to show how contagious these theories are and how infectious people are. We can all become victims of conspiracy.