An Interview with Filmmaker Flaminia Graziadei

[Image description: Flaminia Graziadei behind the camera; photo credits to her.]

Interview by Amelia A. J. Foy

A few months back, we (Risen) were invited to a female film festival, which I attended with CJ (one of our artists) and my friend. This festival was in support of #TimesUp and #MeToo, featuring short films directed by and/or featuring women.

While I was grateful for our invite, when I was there I kept thinking back to “Underwire”, a female film festival I have previously volunteered at. At Underwire, I found the featured artists and their films to be more diverse and more purposeful than at “She Lives” - something I found odd given that this festival was dedicated to #TimesUp. This realization is not to detract from the women’s talent and success, but rather a critique for the organisers and creatives present. A film festival in East London should feature more women of colour, more working-class women...basically, be more representative.

However, I was particularly drawn to one film shown - the only film at a women’s festival with a lesbian narrative. Arrivederci Rosa, an Italian short film about two best friends in London, one of whom is gay and introverted compared to her straight, happy-go-lucky counterpart, was engaging, realistic, funny and poignant. The film has been selected in more than 20 Film Festivals worldwide and collected more than 10 nominations. Its awards include: Platinum Accolade for Best Direction; Gold Award for Directing at the International Independent Film Awards; Best Comedy at the Accolade Global Film Award; World Cinema Award at the Culver City International Film Festival; Grand Jury Trophy at the LGBTQA Film Festival; Silver Remi Award at the World Fest Houston; and Finalist at the BAFTA Cymru.

I immediately wanted to meet the woman behind it: Flaminia Graziadei, an award-winning director, producer and choreographer trained in Italy and the UK. This was only reinforced when the directors were invited up to discuss the #TimesUp movement. Flaminia’s answer was striking in comparison to the others, which I found slightly too palatable - messages of how amazing it was women were coming together, as if they have not been speaking out for decades unheard. Flaminia’s response? “I think it’s disgusting that we even have to be gathered here.” My friends and I exchanged a look; this is what we had been looking for the whole night. Politics. Outrage.

I talked with Flaminia (and her lovely wife!) after the festival, saying how important it was to have some queer representation at these events, and how refreshing her attitude was. Trained between cinema and theatre over 25 years in Italy, Spain and the UK, Flaminia now lives in London, where she set up her film company, LonRom Film Productions Ltd. In addition to Arrivederci Rosa, her other productions include: The Final Haunting, her first official feature film, winning Best Actress at the 2015 London Independent Film Festival, Inside Out, awarded Best Short at the London Independent Film Festival and Certificate of Merit at the 56th Rochester International Film Festival, I Believe In Monsters, BDD, and The Unexplained. Two further projects are currently in the works; I spoke to her about an upcoming webseries called InterPlay below, as well as how her sexuality feeds into her work, and where you can find her work to support her.

What is the webseries InterPlay about?

It tackles the subject of online dating in young adults. How dating has changed thanks to the new possibilities that Internet allows. We want to approach the subject from both the positive aspect, the quicker, easier, broader and more transversal  way to meet up for youngsters, as well as the more negative, the hiding behind the screen that can lead to pranks and abusive behaviour. The Web series starts exactly from a situation like that: one of our protagonists is victim of the “pull a pig” prank. Her best friends will rally around her and this will trigger off their decision to open a dedicated blog to interact with people out there. The interaction is actually real - through the web series’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts, our audience will be asked to actively interact, commenting, suggesting topics and even addressing our protagonist’s next moves. A rather new, very interactive format.

How did you get into filmmaking?

Thanks to the Oscar winning 1st Assistant Director of Paolo Sorrentino. He’s like a brother to me and he offered me to be his second AD in 2001. After 2 rather big productions with him as 2nd AD, I started to work as 1st Ad and then moved into Directing myself. It has been a natural process, as I wasn’t inexperienced in direction, I had Directed and Choreographed several Dance Theatre and Theatre pieces for the previous fifteen years.

What message you want to convey?

It’s more of an exploration of a world, the one of dating, that has so dramatically changed. The message is that, despite the difficulties and behind the fa├žade that online dating allows, there are real people, with feelings and sensitivity. They can get hurt as well as be hurtful, but at the end of the day, are still looking for the same thing: love, contact, sharing, relating to each other.

What influences your filmmaking process?

Contemporary art influence my style and my image composition, the theme of the project makes my vision trigger. I get completely absorbed and become a tool to convey it.

How has embracing your sexuality helped in the creation of your work?

I guess it helped in defining what really interests me and in the way I approach diversity in general. It’s definitely one of my main themes, be it LGBT, mental health, outsiders, third age, diversity in all its nuances is what triggers off my urge of telling a story. Having gone through the deep process of embracing myself, forces me to constantly look for unfiltered authenticity in my work, for as difficult as it can be.

Where can we follow you and your work?

My production company website, where you can find trailers and news, our facebook page and our twitter link. The short films are also on VOD platforms: Short International TV and Faboulosis Film and I’m in the process of distributing the feature film in Asia, Europe and North America, so stay tuned for more news!