Laura Luchetti shows what independent filmmaking is supposed to be with her movie Twin Flower. Simple. Real. Raw. The film is about two teenagers in Sardinia who are constantly on the run. They form a tender relationship despite their cultural differences.
The film starts off with a medium close up of a young teenage girl, Anna (Anastasyia Bogach). She is running frantically through the beautiful Sardinian landscape. Then the camera switches to a close up of a man. He is on the ground and looks like a leopard about to pounce on his prey. He is chasing Anna.
After Anna’s opening sequence we switch to Basim’s opening sequence. Basim (Kalill Kone) is a young African-American refugee from Côte d’Ivoire. Also in a close up, we see him playing with a supermarket cart. Then the camera switches to a wide angle as the cart drifts away from him and he sits on the floor. There is no one around. His loneliness is immediately apparent. Basim gets chased away from the market after trying to make some money by helping customers. A car stops next to him and a man inside offers to help Basim by giving him food and water. As Basim gets into the car the camera switches to Anna’s stalker and the soundtrack of the movie starts. The soundtrack continues through various sequences of the film and creates a steady sense of unease.
Congratulations. I heard that you won a prize yesterday for your short film Sugarlove.
Luchetti: I am very happy. It is a short film in which I used a specific animation technique, so it actually took longer than making Twin Flower. I finished the films at the same time basically because the editing for Sugarlove took so long.
I loved Twin Flower. It made me cry. It is an honest and important film, especially the innocence and purity.
Luchetti: Thank you for saying honest. Because it really was and I am happy that comes through.
Yes the actors were not pushing at all. It was so simple and beautiful.
Luchetti: Less is more. Simplicity is difficult to achieve. We had to take out a lot. It was their first time as actors and my first time directing non-actors. It was based on trust. They trusted me a lot. We worked a lot. It was not easy. But we were always very clear minded. There were no tricks or whimsical choices to look smarter or better. It was very honest, as you said. And hard work. They are kids. They are shy. They don’t speak each other’s languages. The film is about an impossible relationship that becomes a necessary relationship. Friendship that becomes love.
What are the backgrounds of the actors?
Luchetti: He is a refugee. He came to Italy only a couple of months before we shot the film. I don’t speak French. He only spoke 20 words of Italian at the time. We had to find other ways to communicate. I did not want them to learn lines. I cut and formed the characters around the actors, like a tailor. He brought his language, his African joy. She brought the mystery, the intelligence. She is Italian but she comes from the Ukraine, so she has a long trip inside of her as well. I chose them because they both are survivors. They have survivor skills. They have the eyes of people who have 5 seconds to understand where the danger comes from. They are street cats.
Could you talk about symbolism in your movie? From the animals like the ants, the zebra, and the dead bird, to the twin flowers, nature, the moon, Anna’s necklace..?
Luchetti: There is a lot. The necklace was her mother’s or her father’s. Thank you for noticing it. It is something that gives her comfort. You can tell that it belongs to someone in her family. This is a very low budget film, not even low budget, rather “love” budget, but I still wanted to take the time to explore nature because I love that. I spent time over the ants and dragonflies and spiders. These animals are all around us. They are very small but they are fundamental in nature. They disappear in those big landscapes. They are like my characters. Anna looks at the ants, and Basim in another shot looks at the dragonflies. And we were so lucky, because when we were shooting, a spider suddenly appeared. And I know it is only “freaky me” who gets excited by things like that, but my DP freaked out as well.
What about the Soundtrack?
Luchetti: The soundtrack is a blend of the winds. I wanted the landscape of Sardinia to be like a mother to the characters. The nature helps them. We see them crossing the street and we lose the right to follow them. They go towards the future. And I hope it will bring them to a nice place. But I am very optimistic.
The first time I cried was in the bathtub scene. It really seemed like two lost souls coming together, the Twin Flowers.
Luchetti: I appreciate your saying that because that was the aim. It took a lot of concentration and honesty. And it was not supposed to be just another sex scene.
Could you talk about communication in the movie? Basim speaks a mixture of French and Italian. Anna usually does not speak at all.
Luchetti: The last thing you hear in the film, and it is the first thing she says, is his name. How romantic. I don’t want to spoil the film, but Anna does not speak due to certain events in her life. So by the end, when she finally speaks, there is hope.
There is also the theme of religion in the film. To me it seemed that Manfredi saw Anna as his “Savior”, his “Virgin Mary”?
Luchetti: It’s amazing. When you give your film to people it becomes theirs. And it is enlightening to sit here and see what the film gave to other people. Manfredi only has faith in this girl. He thinks he can become a better man by protecting Anna. But the way he thinks about it is not healthy. He is driven by loneliness. There are no evil characters in the movie. They are all driven by loneliness.
Do you have a new project coming up?
Luchetti: Yes, it’s about young people again. It is a period drama about adolescence. I can only explain it by saying that it is the story of a virginity that defends itself. I know it sounds weird, also in Italian, but that’s what it is.
You seem to love working with children then?
Luchetti: I am drawn to the young point of view. I trust adults less than children.
Well, me too. Kids and animals.
Luchetti: Yes, the perfect film for me would be only animals and kids playing around.
Thank you for talking to me and making such a touching film. I think it is very important that the world can see movies like that. It makes no judgement, but promotes so much empathy.
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