“Yuri Esposito” (Italy, 73’) directed by Allessio Fava is part of the Biennale College section of the Venice International Film Festival and premieres on Aug 30. (Trailer) The crisp even cinematography (Alessandro Dominici) symbolizes the finely finished product of an emerging filmmaker.
The subject of the film is about a man whose bodily movements are one fifth of the speed of a normal human. To maintain his stability he takes injections of the polio vaccine.There are flashbacks to his youth shot on Super 8 filmstock where he dressed as an astronaut and played with a young girl, later to become his wife, Lucia (Beatrice Cevolani).
Yuri (Matteo Lanfranchi) has everything going for him – a job suited for him meticulously painting religious scenes inside a church, a joyful hobby swimming where he practices staying under water as long as he can, and a wife who adores him. With a child on his way, what’s there to complain about? Yet on becoming a father he decides his speed isn’t fast enough. Only in water and outer space does his speed not matter, and for that reason there are lots of references in the film to this. What comes to mind is that his wife’s pregnancy with their child could be seen as an astronautical adventure as well as birthing the child, swimming weightless within a sea of amniotic fluid. This perspective could be possible given the film language in “Yuri Esposito” but Yuri doesn’t see this. Lucia leaves when he has doubts about fatherhood.
Throughout the film, the pristine cleanliness of Yuri’s clothing, apartment, the clean swimming pool and the overall order suggests that without a woman in his life, Yuri will go into meltdown. Indeed his deterioration is fast when Lucia leaves, depicted by stale apples, overturned coffee cups, moldy sandwiches, soiled clothes and a dirty fish tank.
“Gravity” was the opening film of the Venice Film Festival and Sandra Bullock remarked at the press conference that she is not used to weightlessness since she is on the move all of the time. Yuri is not and and decides to accelerate with experimental drugs administered by Lucia’s father Vittorio (Claudio Morganti).
Gestalting Yuri’s slowness in the beginning of the film almost seems like the shots were done in slow motion especially when he blinks his eyes. Later, Matteo Lanfranchi seems to have learned how to do be slow and his blinks pick up speed. The film momentum had to be adjusted for his character’s slowness, as well as his drug induced acceleration. It is not easy to do something like this, but Fava tries hard to make it work. The filmmmaker says “the film is about time, the beauty of time, that we cannot grasp in the madness of life”.
Allesio Fava explained that with budget limitations scenes had to be shot as planned and there wasn’t time for retakes. His experience with short films, and short budgets prepared him for this tempo. Producer Max Chicco who worked with him helped to keep the story within budget. “Yuri Esposita” was shot in 24 days.
As part of the festival section “Biennale College”, Fava and Chicco won a production grant from the new higher education workshop for the development and production of micro-budget full-length feature films (150 000 € ). Emerging directors and producers from all over the world can apply for the competitive workshop. It must be the director’s first or second film and the producer must have three audiovisual projects that have been distributed or presented at festivals. The “Biennale di Venezia” in partnership with Gucci organizes the program.
The three finalists for the next Venice Film Festival open to international contestants will be announced after the initial workshop and receive a production grant just as Fava and Chicco.