«That summer with Irène». In search of freedom


By John

Summer as a season of possibilities, immediate, pure, profound, free friendship and the theme of illness, addressed with extreme delicacy, while in the background flows the wild and luminous beauty of the island of Favignana. “That summer with Irène” runs along these lines, the second feature film by director Carlo Sironi with Noée Abita, Camilla Brandenburg, Claudio Segaluscio, Gabriele Rollo, Beatrice Puccilli, Anna di Luzio, Maurizio Grassia, film selected for the 74th Berlinale and currently in the rooms. Produced by Kino with Rai Cinema, in co-production with JuneFilms, and distributed by Fandango (the Sicilian distribution is by SudTitles), the film was presented by the director in a long Sicilian tour which also stopped in Catania, Trapani (city of origin of the French actress Noée Abita), Mazara del Vallo and Messina, at the Apollo Multiplex. The Messina screening was introduced by the exhibitor Fabrizio La Scala and the journalist Chiara Chirieleison who spoke with the Roman director. We asked Sironi, born in 1983, his second feature film after «Sole», presented in competition in the Orizzonti section at the 76th Venice Film Festival, with some questions.
First of all, how did the film come about?
«Some films are born on a more rational path, in this case however the beginning was very bizarre, the first time I imagined it I was listening to “To Wish Impossible Things” song by The Cure, it lasts about 5 minutes during the which I imagined frames of the story, the two protagonists, the island that welcomes them which brought with it memories already present in me. This happened before I shot my first film “Sole”, so I wrote the story, put it in a drawer and worked on it afterwards».
Are there any points in common between the two films?
«In both there are two characters who meet without the desire to do so, they find each other and change each other's existence and in both there is no rational reason as to why they meet, but at 18 it happens».
We are in August 1997, Clara (Camilla Brandenburg) and Irène (Noée Abita) meet for the first time during a trip organized by the hospital that is treating them, one shy and solitary, the other brazen and unstoppable. , they have in common the desire to live their 17 years and make up for the lost time of the disease, defeating the shadows and letting themselves go into the unknown, which they will do by escaping together to an island far from everyone where they can finally experience their first real summer. «It's not a travel film – explains Sironi – but a holiday film, because in the summer we believe that the experiences we have are different, freer, and they make up for lost time. The film then brings with it the desire to also tell that moment in which the first impressions of life strike us and create our identity and our memory, that summer that we will never forget. I wanted to make a film that had the indefinite substance of a daydream and the surgical precision of the most important memories.”
How did you choose your protagonists?
«Noée was there right away, I was in Paris for the writing residency for the first feature film, I saw a film where she acted and I was struck by it and she learned Italian for the film. Camilla is a young Roman actress. Working with them was very easy and fun.”
Also in the watermark is the very delicate theme of oncological disease: how can we bring it into the film?
«The disease is dealt with delicately, we turned to an association, Agop, which allowed us to know the stories of some girls and some boys and understand the phases of the disease, such as the one in which the treatments ended but we're not out of it yet, which is the time the girls in the film live in.”
The relationship with music is fundamental, both as a gateway to the creative process and as a counterpoint to the narrative: «The Cure song found at the end is central but the music – confirms Sironi – is very important in the film, it marks its evolution, from the most romantic moment to the most bizarre.”
Care, elegance and delicacy characterize this film with an ancient flavor which allows you to immerse yourself in a magical space, «the island of Favignana where nature has shaped scenarios and landscapes perfect for my story», concludes the director.