Il Più Grande Sogno (I Was A Dreamer) is now playing in Italian theaters, and we’re eagerly anticipating it here in the USA.
Mirko Frezza, playing Michele Vannucci’s cool new movie Il Più Grande Sogno’s main protagonist, says that the film is “loosely based on his life”, and though I’m still not sure to what extent, he did tell me that he’s done a little time in prison. The Mirko in the movie’s looking for a fresh start after a recent incarceration and he’s back in society with a goal: to win back the love and respect of his family. When he gets elected president of his neighborhood association he grabs on to the opportunity and makes it his personal shot at rehabilitation. Also starring #25 on Ciak Mag’s Power List, Alessandro Borghi, Il Più Grande Sogno is on my list of top 10 films of the year.
I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun doing an interview.
Sitting on the patio of a beautiful old house on Lido,talking with director Michele Vannucci and actors Mirko Frezza and Alessandro Borghi, I felt like a favorite old aunt catching up with her handsome and charming nephews.
“You’re so young”, I couldn’t help telling Michele. After all, at just 29 years-old, there he was, with a film in competition at the Venice Film Festival. “Where did all this wisdom come from?”, I asked him.
“What are you talking about?” He seemed genuinely confused. “Give me an example”, he challenged me, and I had one ready for him.
In the film, Mirko, fresh out of the slammer, says, “I thought the worst was over, but it’s just started.” It’s my favorite line in the movie, I’d memorized it, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Vannucci’s film has such a profound message about what it means to make a big mistake, to be poor and helpless, and to struggle to redeem yourself against all odds.
“When I look at Michele I don’t see a young guy, I see old man,” Mirko laughed.
And yet Michele gives the credit to Mirko, and says that the film was “born from him.”
“We didn’t know where we were going when we started the film”, Michele told me.
“In fact”, said Mirko, “in the beginning it was supposed to be a short film, a children’s cartoon!”
The dialogue is just awesome, with a lot of Roman dialect and authentic conversations, and I about improvisation.
“Every single scene was an improvisation of a situation that we’d story boarded”, Michele told me.
I told them that sounded like a lot of work, but Alessandro jumped in, “Its not! As an actor, improvisation is much easier.”
“We’re friends”, explained Borghi. “I introduced Mirko to Michele and we came up with the movie together.”
So it’s easy to see how the real Mirko has been able to make a success out of his life, but what about the Mirko in the movie? What will it take for someone like him to stay out of prison and stay on the straight and narrow?
“Being responsible for someone else”, he told me.
I asked Michele the question I ask all directors, about what young filmmakers are doing differently from their predecessors in cinema in the ’80s and ’90s and he really couldn’t say. He seems completely removed from that era and a filmmaker that is in the moment, bringing his own truth to cinema. When I asked him if he had any favorite Italian directors from those years he said flatly, “No.”
“The ’80s and ’90s weren’t my favorite years”, I told them, “that’s for sure.
“Mine either”, said Mirko, and all three of them burst into laughter.
“His prison years”, Michele told me.
Mirko’s officially my favorite ex-con and, as I told him, I can’t wait to see the sequel, Mirko part 2.