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Dolomites soar in Edoardo Ponti’s last film. These harsh and intimidating mountains at first sight, become the finishing line of a journey towards a new life.
“The Night Shift Belongs to the Stars” is a short film based on an original story by Erri De Luca. In less than 30 minutes, director Edoardo Ponti takes us into the lives of three characters, Matteo (Enrico Lo Verso), a passionate mountain climber, Sonia (Nastassja Kinski), a married woman also in love with mountains, and Mark (Julian Sands), Sonia’s husband. Their lives take a turn when two of them, Matteo and Sonia, meet before facing a heart transplant.
Aware of the possible second chance they have been given, they promise each other to climb a mountain if they will survive. “Donating a heart is the biggest gift of life after the one a mother gives to her child” explained De Luca. Climbing a mountain is for those characters a way to acknowledge and feel the new life they have received.
The short, produced by Silvia Bizio and Paola Porrini Bisson, was awarded at the last Tribeca Film Festival, and was recently presented at the 19th Palm Springs International Short Fest, which showcased 330 films from 49 countries.
“I never win anything” laughs the director during an interview with L’Italo-Americano. “When the announcer said they were going to award a film about the different meanings of love and heart, I thought: -What a coincidence, there’s another film on the same subject!”.
This young director doesn’t look for reassurance in his family name. The son of the Italian diva Sophia Loren and producer Carlo Ponti (and now husband of actress Sasha Alexander), Edoardo grew up surrounded by cinema, but learned to follow his own path. Born in Switzerland, he lived in France and now in the U.S., “But I feel very Italian” he says.
Edoardo Ponti in fact isn’t new to making cinema in Italy, where he had already worked for the post production of Between Strangers, featuring Sophia Loren, Mira Sorvino and Klaus Maria Brandauer. “And I’m currently working on another project over there”, he reveals.
While the world dreams of Hollywood, you look overseas?
“Not exactly. I just think it all depends on the way you work. A film crew is a micro cosmos, and if it works, it works anywhere. I have to say Italian crews are brilliant, they have determination and are very creative. I always had good experiences working with them, and even for this film I have found a great group of people. Honestly, the only obstacle I have found was weather… At the top of those mountains condition can change several times a day, which is exactly what happened to us. It took us eight days to shoot everything.”
So why is Hollywood still the reign of cinema, where you in fact decided to live and work?
“What makes Los Angeles unique is the number of opportunities you get to make ANY kind of cinema, with any budget, from blockbusters to low cost independent productions. This city lives of cinema, and that doesn’t happen in any other part of the world.”
The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars is a peculiar film. It was set in Italy, produced by Italians who mainly operate in California, and it featured an international cast.
“The world is now a mosaic of languages, and cinema has to reflect this reality. The most important thing is that language has to be used properly. Dialogues are like music, if they are not perfect there’s a lack of communication, and the result won’t be good”.
Is this why you made actors act in their own language?
“Exactly. In this short each actor speaks his own language. Any other choice would have sounded weird and unnatural.”
Erri De Luca is so attentive to the use of words, that any attempt to turn his stories into images is a risk.Yours was a brave choice.
“The thing of Erri that I most appreciated is that when he gave me the opportunity to make this film, he also gave me the opportunity to make it the way I felt it. He truly is a generous man. He’s a hard team player, and his presence on set never made me feel under pressure. Actually, very often I wanted his opinion and I had to look for him, as I was always hiding somewhere, either on a rock or on a tree…”
So what do you see for the future of this short film?
“Well, the film is already distributed in Italy by Feltrinelli, along with a copy of the screen player and a diary written by Erri during those days on the mountains. Then, thanks to the visibility we had in the several film festivals and to the awards we received, we are getting a lot of attention, and we hope to get even more. Capturing the audience’s attention with short films isn’t as easy as with feature films, but I’m surprised and very happy of the results we had until now.”