Venice Film Festival, Abel Ferrara and his Padre Pio: “It’s not the story of a saint”

Abel Ferrara in private concert at the Lido of Venice (LaPresse)

Abel Ferrara is at the Lido with his new film Father Pio. The friar of Pietralcina has the face of Shia LaBeoufwho spent a long time in the convent for this film, starting, he says, a path of conversion.

Abel Ferrara, Shia really seems to be in pain in this film.
“Yup. The story I tell, in the years around 1920, is taken at a time when Padre Pio was in his thirties as Shia is now. Padre Pio was not a saint, this is not a film about a saint. He is a person who is questioning his principles of him, at a time when a social revolution is also taking place. And there is a revolution in his soul too ».

Shia is making a journey within himself after this film. Did he choose it for that?
“I needed a person who understood what he was going through.”

How deep is your interest in Padre Pio?
«We often hear about him, about this saint, who worked miracles. Then we made a documentary that went into detail. My co-writer. Maurizio Braucci, and I went in depth: we talked with the locals, we read, did research. And the more we did, the more amazing what we discovered was. Then we decided to focus on that moment, when the massacre of San Giovanni Rotondo in 1920 took place in his town ».

She painted it as a place of great spirituality, but today Padre Pio’s country is also a very kitschy place. Did you find there was something more than what you see?
«I know those places, they are some of the most beautiful in the world. Pio had grown up living a simple life, his father went to America for work ».

Did this path have an important meaning for you?
“Of course yes! you wonder about what made it special. You film the performances, the communion, with an actor who has learned the mass and has spent months learning it. You are surrounded by monks, being around these people marks you ».

He has Italian origins, he knows the Vatican, the Church. Does he think that Padre Pio is now a figure that is being talked about, is it also discussed why he has broken the balance in the Church? He was a revolutionary man.
“He was a revolutionary man also depending on who the Pope was. He always kept his clothes, the robe of a simple monk, he gave confession to everyone. He had a hospital built, he came to a town with a donkey and little money and he had a great desire to do. He has treated people not only with prayers, but also with a hospital ».

He also filmed the murder of 1920, in that story Padre Pio was involved because for some years it was thought he had been the inspiration. What do you think?
“Padre Pio made a vow, obedience was part of his creed, obedience to the Vatican and the Pope. When they told him he could not leave his room for three days, he carried out the order. When he talks to his superiors, he understands his position. ”

What is your relationship with Asia Argento, who is in this film and in your other films?
«I love her, she is special, she is a good actress, talented. She came to shoot a very complicated scene, she was based on a real letter from Padre Pio ».

What do you think of the Venice Film Festival? She likes?
“I really enjoy being here, I have come many times and I always have good memories.”

These days we talk about cinema and its future. Seeing the growth of streaming, what do you think?
“I think cinema is alive, people make films, they express themselves, even the youngest kids can try to make films with their phones and I think it’s important.”

Do you feel free?
“Yes, I’ve always tried every day.”

And do you always like cinema?
“Yes, I also like to read. When I’m not working on a film I read ».

Your next project?
“We are shooting a documentary in Kiev, we just got back. It was sad, scary, very interesting. We are just at the beginning of a difficult job ».

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September 3, 2022 (change September 3, 2022 | 20:47)


Venice Film Festival, Abel Ferrara and his Padre Pio: “It’s not the story of a saint”