Two days ago, in Los Angeles, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this year’s nominations for the Oscar, with Matteo Garrone’s film “Me, Captain” now officially competing for the Oscar in the best foreign film category.
The famous Italian film director learned this great news on his way to the Mećavnik Mountain in Serbia, where film director, Emir Kusturica, presented him with the Tree of Life award at the opening of the 17th Kustendorf Film Festival.
“I feel at home in Kustendorf. This is my family. When I started filming, Emir was very important to me. At the age of 22, I went to the Venice Film Festival because I liked watching movies. I was a painter then, not a director. I met Kusturica. I was so shy, but he was very important for my further journey. And when Kusturica invites you to come to the festival, you cannot refuse, regardless of where I was at that moment, in Los Angeles or some other place. You just can’t say no to Kusturica,” Garrone reminisces.
Emir Kusturica says you will definitely win an Oscar. How did you react when you found out about the nomination?
Literally, an hour ago, a friend called me and told me great news. I was nominated with four other films. Well, Kustendorf brought me good luck. Betting shops ranked my film third out of five in terms of winning an Oscar. My favourite is the English film “The Zone of Interest”, as the director Jonathan Glazer is a great friend of mine. May the best win!
What, in your opinion, is crucial for a film to get the attention of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and be nominated?
Films that have big budgets and strong distributors reach both wide audiences and Academy members. My film didn’t have that kind of support and that makes this nomination an even bigger success. We still have a month left until the awards and during that time we have to do everything in our power to make sure that the film is seen by as many members of the Academy as possible, who in the end vote for their favourites. In total, there are 10,000 of them who vote, quite a big number.
This is your third time in Serbia. What do you like most about our country?
Yes, and all three times I was on the Mećavnik. My time in Serbia is always limited to spending 48 hours in the mountains. I did not visit other parts of Serbia and your cities. So I’m a little ashamed to talk about what I love most about Serbia because I haven’t gotten to know it well. I would like to come as a tourist and shoot something here. Then I would certainly have time to get to know your country better and then I could tell you what I like best.
Your film “Me, Captain” talks about two migrants who fled from Senegal to Europe in search of a better life. What made you decide to cover that topic?
I think this topic is universal. I wanted to show what these people experience and go through on their journey for a better life. Some of them never reach the goal, but die from overexertion or are killed. The film is about human rights and that was important for me to show.
How did you pick the lead actors?
At the casting. The guys playing the lead roles are great. I’ve done a lot of interviews with Africans and believe me, out of 500 of them, only five or six have ever gone to the cinema. I am glad that I chose great people to act in the film.
Do you like to take risks when it comes to the subjects you cover in the film?
Yes, I like to get out of my comfort zone. Honestly, I can’t wait for this film’s festival screenings to pass because I feel like I’m on a political campaign trail. I go from country to country, visiting festivals and promoting the film.
This post is also available in: Italiano