“Waiting for the Revolution” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Francesco Niglio

2024 March 15

“Waiting for the Revolution” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Francesco Niglio

-Who is Francesco Niglio?

Francesco Niglio isn’t navigating this journey solo; my path in filmmaking has been illuminated by a profound insight shared by Wim Wenders – that cinema thrives on collective effort. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a cadre of talented and stimulating individuals. Diego Vitale, with his kaleidoscope of skills, has played a pivotal role across various phases of our projects. Our exchanges brim with vitality, each idea a spark igniting the next, making our creative process a dynamic dance of ideas. Through Diego’s network, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with remarkable individuals such as Caterina Pandolfi, an esteemed producer, and Armando Taddeo (what a DOP!), with whom I share an intuitive creative connection. with whom I share an almost telepathic creative rapport. Fellini’s observation rings true – it’s easy to be generous in special circumstances, but this response comes from a genuine place. I live and breathe movies; I’m constantly studying the craft, but amidst all the ambition, I never lose sight of the fact that people are what truly matter.

-What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a director. Of course, to the age-old question of ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, there was only one time I gave a different answer: when I was about 4 or 5 years old, and I told my teacher I wanted to be a thief like Lupin because he seemed to have a fun life, and my father adored him. Needless to say, she promptly called my parents. “Francesco is a child bursting with imagination,” my parents explained, “he adores crafting stories; he doesn’t mean it seriously. Sometimes he exaggerates, other times he simply wants to express himself.” This sentiment holds true even now. I feel I have a natural inclination for storytelling, which, combined with my immense love for cinema, made becoming a director almost inevitable.

I clung to my passion so fiercely that it evolved into determination, and thankfully, a touch of recklessness too. Opting to study philosophy at university with the aim of becoming a deeper filmmaker, and generally often making choices despite my fear (I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a coward at times), driven by the will and desire to seek out diverse emotions and experiences to live through interesting stories.

What strikes me, among other things, is that since the age of 15 or 16, when I was already contemplating the films I wanted to create, I was always certain that I would become a director in the year Napoli won the scudetto. Even in the full script of the film, this notion is present: it’s not just the opening line, but there are two versions of myself depicted – one who succeeds and one who doesn’t.

Perhaps I’ve stretched the truth a bit with this answer? It’s just that in my case, it’s hard to pinpoint a definitive “what.” Now, the temptation to conclude with a profound statement, a cultured quote, or a witty joke is strong, but perhaps it would also be clichéd.”

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

I believe that cinema has a profound capability to penetrate society. Indeed, almost as if by a peculiar transitive property, cinema, being the creation of an imaginary world, deeply contributes to that nebulous concept we call the “collective imaginary.” Whether cinema, on the other hand, is capable of effecting changes in society is a different matter. I don’t believe that Chaplin being crushed on the assembly line brought about changes for workers; surely the effects on the world of his famous final monologue in “The Great Dictator” fall short of the film itself. Even the cinema of the ’68 revolution era was merely a sounding board for those movements. Cinema manages to immortalize figures like Jake La Motta as one of the greatest boxers of all time. In short, it’s an art form more capable of influencing than effecting tangible changes. Just consider how we imagine the United States. Cinema is indeed a powerful propaganda tool, and I would argue that propaganda is still a rather nuanced way of effecting change. Of course, there’s a strong tradition of political cinema. In Italy, we’ve had some great masterpieces of this kind. But cinema cannot change what people themselves must change. Many Palestinian filmmakers share the sentiment that any film depicting Palestine essentially becomes a Palestinian film, as their objective is to illuminate the realities of the region. The Academy’s decision to revoke the nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for a Palestinian entry in 2002 underscores the challenges faced by filmmakers from marginalized communities. Even a celebrated filmmaker like Julian Schnabel faced obstacles with certain communities and governments for his film “Miral,” based on Rudi Jabral’s biographical novel.

In general, I believe that our society is unfortunately very resistant to change. Nevertheless, I still hold onto a glimmer of hope in people, and why not, in cinema too.

-What would you change in the world?

A question like that is always challenging for someone who has graduated in political philosophy. If there is something that our planet is demanding, something that our species, indeed all species, are imploring us for, it’s change. Sometimes, there’s a strange sense of liberation in knowing that nothing is forever, that even the sun will one day collapse and so on. But what should we do with our existence? Surely, we have responsibilities. In many countries around the world, there is more injustice than justice. Even in the Western world, where there is solid well-being, there are deep sufferings and tragedies that often occur because society is flawed.

If I were a wizard, I would undoubtedly change almost everything. Perhaps being a wizard is akin to being a director: you must have a precise vision. I cannot imagine all the solutions, but I support them. I am eagerly awaiting changes, and I try to contribute in my own small way. I hope I am not simply waiting for Godot. Perhaps for this reason, I immediately decided to call the film ‘Waiting for the Revolution.’ It seems to me an appropriate way to use the title creatively, to offer a perspective: people with a common goal are unstoppable, but often the goal itself may not be the right one. In any case, I tried to take it easy. I don’t like the idea of being pedagogical or taking the high ground, so I constructed stories that, with dark humor and a penchant for the grotesque, revolved around some overlooked or unpleasant things.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Cinema is such a young art. Thinking about the next 100 years poses an interesting challenge. I hope that, like other art forms, there will be new cycles of schools, ideas, and masterpieces. I’m quite sure that we won’t see any more superhero movies. Will they follow the trajectory of Western movies? I think so. Perhaps a Swedish director in 2098 will create an existentialist movie on the loneliness of Hulk. Anyway, this has been a good year for cinema. Important festivals have maintained a solid standard, and even the box office has been oriented towards good movies (which is not so common). In Italy, there has basically been an anomaly; films like “Past Lives” and “Perfect Days” have topped the charts. For example, “Anatomy of a Fall,” which was distributed in just 25 theaters, earned over one and a half million euros. It’s something noteworthy in the Italian movie market. I like to think that it’s a positive sign. I’ve read about the box office successes of masterpieces from the 1950s and 1960s, referred to as ‘the supershow of authors.’ I hope something like that happens again, that new masterpieces like those emerge once more because people love good stories