This past summer at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in New York City I was lucky to see Scialla! (Easy!) with its director and screenplay writer Francesco Bruni at the screening. We loved the movie, about a pothead college professor who discovers that he has a teenage son, but at the time, for me, Bruni was just a new, promising, director I didn’t know anything about. I was embarrassed to learn that he’s been writing very successful comedies for other people for 20 years. In fact, he’s cowritten the screenplay for Paolo Virzì’s very popular new Tutti i Santi Giorni (All The Blessed Days).
With writing credits, among many others, for Matrimoni e Altri Disastri (Weddings and Other Disasters), Tutta La Vita Davanti (Your Whole Life Ahead Of You), and Virzì’s La Prima Cosa Bella (The First Beautiful Thing) and Caterina Va In Città (Caterina in the Big City), this guy isn’t what you’d call a newcomer.
Explaining that he drew a lot of his inspiration for Scialla! from his own son: “I wanted to say something about the responsibility we have as writers”, said Bruni, at the Q&A after the screening of the film. Bruni said that he was interested in speaking to boys, like his son, who he feels are being too influenced by a culture that glorifies violence and chooses the wrong role models. Movies like Romanzo Criminale, for example, give them the wrong idea about life.
Bruni said that his own son was not only the inspiration for Scialla! but also an influence when he wrote the dialogue. These lines from the film were apparently direct quotes from a conversation with his son:
Stefano – Paying too much attention to girls is a little gay.
Bruno – The logic escapes me.
Stefano – It hurts your street cred.
Bruni’s impressive list of awards and nominations include a Nastro D’Argento for best new director for Scialla!, best screenplay for Virzì’s La Prima Cosa Bella and the Controcampo Award for Scialla! at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.
Bruni says that he’s working (con calma) on a new movie for next year. We’re waiting, Francesco, to see what you come up with next.