A film director’s still images

It was the «breeze of freedom» that Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore felt deprived of in the filmmaking industry for many years as well as his insatiable curiosity pushing him toward the art of his youth: Armed with a camera and stealing time away from his films, as well as from his efforts to restore old movies, he went to ice-cold Siberia to take photographs of the streets of Novij Urengoi. The Oscar-winning director relived his experience recently when he attended the closing of his black-and-white photography exhibition «Giuseppe Tornatore: Photographer in Siberia,» held at Thessaloniki’s Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art. The 48-year-old Italian artist, whose film credits include «Malena» and «Nuovo Cinema Paradiso,» talked about «the mysterious difference between the still image (photography) and the moving image (film).» Freedom «Despite its lack of mobility, photography possesses a certain energy that is very liberating, since you may capture any moment. Cinema, on the other hand, because of the way it works, cannot pin down images or emotional moments. You have less freedom and cannot be as direct in cinema. The restrictions are greater, while you also have to work with a team of people and provide explanations and advice regarding what you want to do. By going to Siberia, I wanted to relive the freedom you feel when you create images yourself, without having to provide any explanations after having spent so many years in filmmaking.» Keen on maintaining tradition, he is leading the Philip Morris Cinema Project’s effort to restore old movies, like Luchino Visconti’s 1948 «La Terra Trema» (The Earth Trembles) and others. «We must preserve tradition and that is why we have undertaken this great effort to restore old films. We have already completed about 15, but it is not easy to secure funding. The cost of the restoration is great and I only wish we had the financial means to restore all films,» he said. Hollywood Talking about the prevalence of Hollywood movies, Tornatore described American cinema as the second industry in the USA. «The USA, unlike Europe, spends much more money on the promotion of films than on their actual making. Americans help producers and vice versa. In Europe, we don’t love ourselves; we complain and criticize much more than produce. The solution would be for the Americans to put more into the production of their films and for the Europeans to start loving their productions a bit.» Asked whether the loss of innocence and the lasting values that prevail in his films are a personal obsession, he replied that it is merely coincidental. «As a child, I wanted to find out the secrets that lay behind the screen. Years later, that curiosity resulted in me becoming a director. If I ever stop being curious, I don’t know what I will do.» «The images I was seeking behind the screen were a simple secret. What I have still to find out is which images I can send to the big screen.»

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