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Director Luca Guadagnino calls documentaries 'the noblest form of cinema'

Luca Guadagnino is probably best known on these shores for his prolific scripted films such as Call By Your Name Me , Suspiria and this year’s Bones and All. But since the beginning of his career he has also directed documentaries ( Bertolucci on Bertolucci ; Cuoco contadino, about one of Italy’s most inventive chefs; etc.), which he calls “the noblest art form of cinema”.

His latest is Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, about the rise of shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo, which In theaters November 4. A name already stamped on storefronts on high-end fashion streets around the world, Ferragamo began his career as the child of poor Italian farmers, obsessed with shoes and began field training at the age of nine. Salvatore follows Ferragamo from these humble beginnings to Santa Barbara in California, where he makes shoes for the burgeoning film industry (especially Western film boots), and later made shoes for Hollywood, clients such as Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish. His work has also appeared in films such as The Ten Commandments and The Thief of Baghdad . Eventually, Ferragamo returned to Italy, where he patented a modern wedge heel shoe and invented a steel shank that would support the arch, as he continued to create glamor shoes for the likes of Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn. Icon creates looks with comfort at the forefront.

Guadagnino’s account of Ferragamo’s journey to the top of his career is drawn from extensive interviews with family members and footage of Ferragamo’s manufacturing process, as well as the Museo Salvatore ) archival footage and photos of Ferragamo. Michael Stuhlbarg (worked with Guadagnino on Call Me By Your Name and Bones and Everything ) Aside, read passages from Ferragamo 2022 Memoirs Dream Shoemaker . Guadagnino wants the audience, he said, “to learn what true genius is and to bring them face to face with genius.”

THR spoke to Guadagnino about his contact with the Ferragamo family, the mystery that still surrounds the iconic shoe designer and themes he hopes to address in future documentary work.

How did you become interested in directing a film about Salvatore Ferragamo?

I’ve always been interested in documentaries, and I’ve always been interested in telling stories about people. I remember I was working for the brand Ferragamo and I was doing advertising and I came across this book Shoemaker of Dreams which he wrote with his help Autobiography of several screenwriters in Hollywood at the time. While reading the book, I realized that there was something about this man’s personality that appealed to me: a loser, a maverick, an eccentric, dedicated to his life’s calling, and pursuing it with all his instincts and all his strength It has its own. The idea of ​​crafting and inventing things, and the ideas of the last century, was also very powerful to me.

Given your previous work with the brand, what was the process of involving Ferragamo’s family in the documentary? ? Do you have to build trust over time?

Very smooth. I met Diego di San Giuliano [Ferragamo’s grandson] a few years ago, so we’ve known each other for a long time. So I think he’s a great way to get into the family and he allows me to express myself with the family.

Have they considered that this movie is about someone in their family, have they had any conditions for this movie ? Or are they willing to work with your interests?

I’m interested in the genius of Ferragamo, I’m not interested in anything else, so they really is ready immediately.

How much archival material did you acquire during the making of this film?

everything. We’ve just gained the ability to browse every single object preserved in the vast archives of the Museum Ferragamo. It really has it all.

Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo, the subject of Shoemaker of Dreams.

Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo’s theme dream shoemaker. Sony Classics

what the process is like, for the movie to touch Got so much information?

Well, not only did we get access to the actual Ferragamo archives, but we also really dug into many other archives, including the Maison Dior’s archives, or the historical archives of Italian national television, where we can read from ’11sand’20rustle’40and’30. And all the archives we can get our hands on in Hollywood to see the world of Hollywood on film. I think in a documentary, when you collect so many ingredients, it’s about the richness of it, but also the rigor of shaping that material into something cohesive and powerful.

Why did you decide to work with fashion journalist Dana Thomas, who wrote the film, and what did she bring to the final result?

I met Dana a few years ago and her book on fashion is fantastic. She is notorious in this field. I think the way she sees things is what fascinates me because she loves systems as much as I do, and she loves to decipher the layers of systems and the meaning of systems. She was really unabashedly curious, curious, curious, curious. I think she brings the rigor of her beauty mindset, a journalistic precision to everything she does, and a lot of fun. Because I like Dana, I like Dana a lot. Do you bring any specific elements from your scripted film work into the documentaries you make, or vice versa?

I think the hard work of filming, especially scripted filming, is always about making sure you can find a way and not look Like a drama, but more like an act. I think that documentary was also about that, like you can see what’s going on without knowing the drama behind what’s happening. Salvatore is more of a talking man documentary, so it’s a little different. Of course, I haven’t dealt with my behaviorist documentaries yet, which I love – like Leviathan , which I think is a masterpiece, stuff like that. But one day.

By the way, I was just about to ask you, what subjects are you interested in in future documentaries?

Oh yes, I saw a movie that really captured my heart, strongly called Honeyland years ago. It’s just so beautiful, so humbling, [a] beautiful film. One day I might stop writing fiction and actually get into it. I think it’s the noblest art form of cinema, and documentaries are.

Did you learn anything about Ferragamo during the making of this film, and was there anything that really surprised you or challenged you about him view?

Well, I think Ferragamo is reserved. He’s very determined, he’s a genius, he’s someone who’s focused on making things happen the way he wants them to. He was really able to show a part of himself through his work, a sense of form and color and boldness. But he’s very reserved: We don’t know much about his love life until he met Wanda Ferragamo. It’s interesting to me, a bit of a mystery, what does this desire look like? Where was his desire in Los Angeles in Hollywood at the time? How is his loneliness? How he… I know that’s another time, but at the same time, desire is desire, so it’s still a big question mark for me.

Why did you choose Michael Stuhlbarg to voice this film? Why was he the right man for the voice?

Well, because Michael is one of the greatest living American actors and one of my best actor friends, yes Someone I can happily work with anytime. Why not What did the audience take away from this movie?

I hope people understand that you can’t put yourself in a dimension to live, some things can be done with willpower and I worked hard to achieve it, but I also want the audience to understand what true genius is, to let them face to face with genius. He is a genius.

Besides two new movies coming out, what are you up to now?

I started mixing Challengers, this is me with Zendaya , Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist’s new film, which runs until January.

This story first appeared in the November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine,

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