In the past twenty years, we’ve seen fewer Italian directors make their mark on American soil. Aside from the seemingly tireless Dario Argento & a film or so from Michele Soavi, we’ve heard very little from our European friends. However, things have changed a bit in the past five or so years & I can’t help but feel there is a revolution which will soon take place here in the states. In fact, we can look forward to seeing both of Domiziano Cristopharo’s films within the next two months through Elite. Brace yourself & get ready as change takes place in the horror industry. And whatever you do, try to remain calm.
Brian Yandle: How would you describe the film “scene” where you live?
Domiziano Cristopharo: It is a strange field… full of insane competition. I tried many times to create cooperative projects, or episodic movies melting different directors together, but it wasn’t easy at all. I must admit there are a few years where I worked almost by myself. I’ve made some good friends, very agreeable, and professional, but in general I think the situation is not ready for a real “renaissance”. In Italy, it still works like “if you have good friends, or husbands, you can do it even if you are not able to do it”.
Yandle: Could you tell us about some of your influences in filmmaking?
Cristopharo: For sure! The stage. I came from the past of a dancer, an art director, and costumes designer for theatre. I am a FX make up artist too. I cannot think about a movie without applying all the lessons I’ve learned from the stage to the development process.
Yandle: What are some of your favorite films?
Cristopharo: Cabaret, Metropolis, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Elephant Man, Farewell, My Concubine
Yandle: What is your favorite part of the filmmaking process? Working with cinematographers to visually convey the story, or working with actors/actresses to flesh out the characters?
Cristopharo: I like both because I like to follow every process. I’m not the kind of director that loves to ask for help! I prefer do it all by myself from the production process to the make up, etc.. The last 3 movies I was the camera operator, and cinematographer as well.
Yandle: When do story ideas usually hit you?
Cristopharo: In all my movies I always keep the same target in mind. I think that every person has a visibility, from 1 person to 100,000 so I have a responsibility. This responsibility is to TELL, or better yet to GIVE something. I try to give a message with my movies, and this message is something relating to the real essence between “what is” and “what appears to be”. All of my movies are a kind of discovery about how we see ourselves and how we really are.
Yandle: As a creative person, you have to be faithful to your own vision, to art and self-expression. How do you deal with censorship or the editing of material which may be construed as objectionable to others?
Cristopharo: No, never. My first movie was destroyed by legal actions, and censorship. I hate every kind of censorship. Now I am the artistic producer of my own work, so I decide how to release them. I explore violence, and sex in a extreme, realistic way, using performers of body art, and porn actors… Why? Because I think that a real artist cannot limit himself in the way he wants to speak. My language is straight to the point, no filters besides ART.
Yandle: How hard was the entire process including getting a DVD released in the states?
Not complicated at all. I always trusted my movies… my children! I just had to wait for the right moment to release them. I understood early on that a movie like HOUSE OF FLESH MANNEQUINS was too progressive in comparison to the actual products at the time. I had to wait for the release and success of other movies like HOSTEL so that mine could be accepted too. As we said, censorship is a great problem for distributors too. They’re scared to sell movies that will be hard to find in shop because of their contents. But Italy is more complicated. Actually, my first 2 movies were released worldwide by ELITE. Both films collected 9 awards between them worldwide, yet I don’t have a distribution here in Italy.
Would you do anything differently the next time around?
I always do something different, or I will get bored. I like to grow up, and explore different fields, and languages. My first movie was a psycho drama, the second (The Museum of Wonders) is a dark musical tale… the third movie I’m ready to release (Hyde’s Secret Nightmare) is porn-horror, and the new one (Bellerofonte) is a fantasy!
What’s the best advice you could give someone new to filmmaking, or anyone interested in pursuing a film career?
Just believe in your dreams & make them come true. That’s it.
Yandle: I would like to congratulate you on the prestigious awards you’ve garnered & I’m very excited about your future endeavors as well. Can you tell us what’s next for you?
I created 2 collective movies dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe. The first; “P.O.E.: Poetry Of Eerie”, I dedicated to the “scary” poetry of this author. 15 directors with NO BUDGET accepted a challenge: to realize an episode in 3 days of filming, to make this movie. The results: 13 episodes of uncanny!
We presented the movie at the Fantastique Semaine du Cinema in Nice (FR) and now we are following some other festivals. The movie is in english so we probably will distribute it in USA, and not in Italy! We’re now working on POE2, Project of Evil… that will explore the horrific side of Edgar Alan Poe!
Yandle: Lastly, our readers will be anxious to do their homework & learn all they can about your work. Where can readers view your films, and learn more about you?
I have a blog that is my complete personal page (under construction!) I keep it updated with the most important info, and all the videos and trailers I’ve made: http://domizianocristopharo.tumblr.com/
My first movie “HOUSE OF FLESH MANNEQUINS” will be released by ELITE in USA in February. The second “THE MUSEUM OF WONDERS” will be released in March by the same label. Elite will release both movies uncut so they are not the copies that are sometimes possible to download online!
Thank you again for taking the time to work with me on this project & I wish you much success in all you do. We are definitely looking forward to seeing your work here in the states!
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