Tribeca ’10 | “Loose Cannons” Director Ferzan Ozpetek Keeps It All About the Family

Tribeca '10 | "Loose Cannons" Director Ferzan Ozpetek Keeps It All About the Family

Tribeca director Ferzan Ozpetek’s “Loose Cannons,” screening in the World Narrative Feature Competition, is a playful take on family obligation and the possibility of being uprooted from comfortable surroundings.

Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio, “Eden Is West”) has a comfortable life in Rome as an aspiring writer and a steady relationship with his boyfriend Marco – a life he has kept secret from his family. So when he’s called back to his hometown of Lecce in Italy’s deep south to help run the family pasta business, he decides to finally reveal his homosexuality to his conservative family and hopefully get out of his business obligations in the process. But when his plans are thwarted by his brother, Tommaso gets stuck on the path that he was desperately trying to avoid.

Director Ferzan Ozpetek (“Facing Windows,” “A Perfect Day”) takes a playful approach to this family dramedy, matching a critique of provincial Southern values with an eccentric cast of characters that includes a philandering conservative father, a boozing aunt, a pair of disgruntled maids, and Tommaso’s bubbly friends. As each family member’s quirks slowly come to the surface, Ozpetek’s heartfelt film reveals that Tommaso isn’t the only one struggling to navigate between la bella figura (a good public image) and his true desires. [Synopsis courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival]

“Loose Cannons”
World Narrative Feature Competition
Director: Ferzan Ozpetek
Primary Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi, Ennio Fantastichini, Lunetta Savino, Elena Sofia Ricci
Screenwriter: Ferzan Ozpetek, Ivan Cotroneo
Producer: Domenico Procacci
Editor: Patrizio Marone
Director of Photography: Maurizio Calvesi
Production Designer: Andrea Crisanti
Composer: Pasquale Catalano
110 min., Italy

[Editor’s Note: This is one interview in a series profiling directors whose films are screening at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.]

Director Ferzan Ozpetek on learning the filmmaking ropes in Italy and his inspiration on “Loose Cannons”…

I was born in Istanbul in Turkey but was drawn to Italy to study because of its rich cinematic tradition. I moved to Rome to study film in 1976 and had the great fortune to work as assistant director with many great filmmakers. I was fortunate that my first film “Hamam: The Turkish Bath” was shown at Cannes and became quite successful internationally, which allowed me to realize my other films, eight features so far.

A lot of my work deals with different angles on the concept of family, both the biological one you are born into and the one you build for yourself as you grow up. “Loose Cannons” began with an idea about something that actually happened to a friend of mine. It started off with a confession-revelation between two brothers, an event which almost destroyed my friend. “Loose Cannons” is a very personal film. I have dedicated it to my father who passed away some years ago, perhaps because after turning 51, I felt some kind of need to look back, to re-evaluate my relationship with my own parents and family that shares some aspects with the story I tell.

Ozpetek on how important location was to him in shooting his film…

Eight years ago I visited Lecce in Apulia for the first time and simply fell in love with it. There is a marvelous atmosphere in Lecce with the beauty of its architecture, the surrounding landscape and the excellent food, all of which chimed with the story. It is very rich in traditions, just like the family in the story, and the setting became almost an additional character.

Before starting the shoot, I wrote the screenplay with Ivan Cotroneo, who came to the set while I was filming in Apulia, and together we changed some dialogue and scenes according to the mood on the set. There were various modifications and rewrites as well as a fair amount of improvisation. I was lucky to have such a stellar cast of actors who I could sometimes tell to run with their scenes, and some of the funniest scenes are theirs as much as mine or Ivan’s.

And on what he hopes a U.S. audience will take away from the picture…

Most of my films were released in the U.S., and New York especially has always been very hospitable to my work. I hope the same holds for “Loose Cannons.” There is a specific Mediterranean atmosphere about the film that I hope the Tribeca audience will relate to. At the same time, its story is universal – everybody has a family, and everybody has to realize who they are in this context, positively, negatively, or ambiguously. And I hope people will laugh because even though it deals with serious issues, the film is about life’s absurdities, too. It is a true comedy of manners.

Ozpetek on his filmmaking sensibilities…

At the end of the first showing of the film, some people asked me whether it was modeled directly on classic Italian comedies such as those by Monicelli, Germi or Petri. For me it is naturally a great honor to be associated with these filmmakers. They are obviously filmmakers that have influenced me and my work and elements that are a part of my life. I grew up professionally with their works and the works of others in Italian cinema. So I am very proud to be mentioned alongside them even though any similarities are unintentional; I am not conscious of them when I am filming, just as I do not imitate the Turkish comedies I watched as a child. But these films are certainly a background that shaped my sensibilities.

And on what’s in store for the future…

I am still focussed on promoting the film. There are many projects I am looking into, but I haven’t really decided yet what will be next.

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