Interview, Magazin

Guglielmo Trupia on his short »Sottoripa«

»The world I created in this film is not real and I did not wanted it to be. I completely changed the ›emotional meanings‹ of the images that I found. I would call it a dream of how I imagine the past of this city.«

Guglielmo Trupias short SOTTORIPA is our FILM OF THE MONTH AUGUST 2016. Guglielmo kindly answered some questions via E-mail. 

Poetryfilmkanal: Where and when did you come across the poem Sottoripa?

Trupia: I was walking through the alleys of Genova’s historical downtown when I came across a small shop on the street. There were a lot of old and used books about the city, like touristic guides and novels. One of them was called Genova per noi (Genova for us). It was a collection of poetries about the city written by many authors from all over the world: one of them was Sottoripa by Julian Stannard.

What do you like about the poem and why do you think it suits well as the base for a film?

When I read it for the first time, I thought it was a ›visual poem‹, literally. With the use of a few words and verses, Julian created a universe that suddenly came up in my mind. I did not read just a poetry, but also a script for a kind of noir film.

Have you been in touch with the author Julian Stannard while you were developing the idea for the film? In which way did he support you?

I made some research, and found out that he is and established author and a university teacher. I wrote an e-mail to him and we started a correspondence. I asked him about that poem, of course. He told me that he wrote it when he came to Genova for the first time (early 80’s) to teach English literature at the public university, which is situated downtown near the Port. At that time the port area was really tough, but also full of humanity and contradictions. I like to imagine him as a young British guy starting to face this new ›exotic‹ realty.

What is your relation to Genova?

My parents and relatives are from Genova, but I was born near Milan and grew up there. When I was a child I used to go and visit my relatives every summer in the ›upper class‹ neighborhood. Growing up, the visits became more rare, but I also realised another thing: I never took the opportunity to get to know this city for real. It is like to have a great subject in front of you without seeing it. That is why I found myself walking in the downtown to read that poetry: I was already there since a week, looking for something that could link me to the city again.

The film is built entirely on found footage. Where derives your interest to work with archive material?

I am a filmmaker and editor, and found footage film has always fascinated me. During my research in Genova I met Max Patrone who owns a cinematheque called Cineteca Griffith. He has thousands of rare films cluttered in different warehouses in the downtown and the hinterland. I think he liked me, one day took me to a small cinema and projected some rare fiction and documentary films set in Genova. Then I thought it could be a good idea to use found footage: I could learn about the story of the city in some way.

How long did the research take to do? Was it difficult to get hold of the material?

A lot. After the meeting with Max, I contacted a cineclub of super 8 amateurs (Cineclub Genova) where I met Bruno Belfiore. After a series of long talks, he gave me some of his private footage. Then I contacted Fondazione Anslado and other institutional archives in Liguria and outside. I ran through the history of Genova from the end of the second world war until the early 80’s. I had a clear idea of the images I wanted, I took more than six months to find the right rushes!

Did you use any soundtrack of the archive footage for the sound?

No, the sound comes from original recordings in the real life of the present Genova. I added some library sound for the Port scene at the end. Actually the entire film started from sound, like a Radio novel. I recorded the voice and then I started to add sound and musics, it was a 3 minute audio story. It became the base to find the images.

Would you call this film a documentary short? In which way is it different from other documentary film projects that you have been working on so far?

I don’t know. It tells the ›real‹ story of Julian of course, and images are almost entirely from real life situations. But the world I created in this film is not real and I did not wanted it to be. I completely changed the ›emotional meanings‹ of the images that I found. I would call it a dream of how I imagine the past of this city … or an interpretation of Julian memories. As editor and director, I always worked in observational and experimental films. This one is completely different from the others, but I always liked the mix between fiction and reality that can create worlds that are similar to ours, but different in some way.

How did the dramatic structure of the film evolve? Did you have this vision to start with light images which then turn more and more into darkness from the very beginning?

Yes, I think so. The poetry guided me from the early beginning.

Do you know any other poetry films?

Actually I’m not a expert of the genre. I came across the Artica project from writer and artist Stevie Ronnie and Alastair Cook. I love a film called Nijuma no Borei (200000 phantoms) by Jean Gabriel Perriot. Maybe is not a properly a poetry film, but is certainly poetic.

The sound track matches and merges very well with the voice-over and the sound design. Can you describe how you worked with the composer Barrie Bignold?

Barrie is a very busy composer based in London. But when I showed the film to him (the final cut was done, but without original music) he just fell in love with it. I think he did a great job, and I never met him in person! We worked step by step from distance, but he understood the mood of the film and added a lot of new emotions and shades that I could not even imagine.

How did you come across Antonio Carletti? Did you work with him before?

During the research period in Genova I met this film collective now called Cose nude media projects. I asked them if they knew someone who can do the voice-over. I wanted someone from Genova, someone who knows the ›life in the alleys‹. Antonio had the ability to not ›interpret‹ too much and giving the right emotions at same time. I like the fact that the images I found, the sound I took, the voice i used, come almost all from Genova and its alleys.

What do you think is particularly interesting or special about the relation between word and image in poetry film?

I think this relation is an issue for any kind of film. It is very difficult to give the right space to the words, to make them breathe. And when I start to edit a new film I have to deal with it. With Sottoripa I decided to anticipate the words to the images, like having a man who takes notes on what he sees. I think it worked in this case. But in the future I will have to find another way.

Can you tell us about your next project you will be working on?

I am working on a new short with the photographer Luca Quagliato called Antropia; it is about a man who lost himself taking sounds in a dystopian futuristic environment. No one seems to notice him. I’m also finishing the edit of a long feature film with my collective Enecefilm: Yvonnes directed by Tommaso Pefetti.

Can you imagine to work on another poetry film in the future?

If I’ll find the right poetry, yes!

About the artist


Guglielmo Trupia is a filmmaker and editor based in Milan, Italy. After studying photography and documentary film at Fondazione Milano Cinema e Televisione, he joined the ENECEfilm collective. Since then he has directed and edited several documentary and experimental films which have been broadcasted on television and have been shown on film festivals nationally and internationally, as well as in art galleries and on streaming channels.

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Film des Monats August 2016: Sottoripa