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Interview with Monica Mazzitelli
"The Coltrane Code"
by Marco Losavio
October 2017

Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

Monica Mazzitelli is a Roman director and writer currently living in Sweden. She is an attentive observer of the cultural sphere as far as images, music and art in general go. We have interviewed her about her short film "The Coltrane Code", written and directed by her.

"The Coltrane Code", a title that cannot fail to attract a jazz enthusiast. What is it about?

The genesis of this short is kind of funny actually: Swedish saxophonist Joakim Milder posted on fb that he had made a strange and compelling dream one morning. He wrote that he had been contacted in his hotel room by a couple - Cruise-Moore style – who wanted him to become a spy. His post ended with "When do we shoot?" and my comment was: "Let's talk about it." This is where it all started for this noir spy story!

From script to directing, did you do it all?
Yes, absolutely! Apart from Joakim's initial idea??, the development and complexity of the "code" are mine.

You seem to care very much about the picture shot, playing with close-up images. Do you have a filmic reference that inspires you?
The primary inspiration is chromatic, and it comes from David Lynch: I wanted "Coltrane" to have his colors and lights, I wanted his atmospheres. I do not really appreciate his story telling, but I think he is a genius in terms of photography. To be honest, I shot this short especially as a kind of exercise for my filming skills, I wanted to put myself to a test with more complex filming equipment. Differently, I would have probably made other choices for the images; the idea of ??recreating the chromatic emotional reference of Mullholland Dr. was a tribute to a great director, done with a smile on my face. Honestly, I never expected it to be eventually selected for over twenty-five movie festivals:) Playing with close-ups was a very important part of the deal, as it prepares for the final reversal of the roles. It's a very psychological thriller.

A plot full of details and evolutions condensed in 11 minutes... did you conceive it like this, or did you need to shorten it?
I am smiling about this question because I think you are touching a good spot there: I am aware that I am often ambitiously synthetic both in my films and in my writing. Indeed, I require a good deal of attention from the audience, but I hope they feel rewarded by the deep stimuli they may get in the understanding of my points. As far as the duration is concerned, I never force myself in the editing: I just use the footage that I like and get guided by the story's rhythm and dialogue. Surely the development is fast, as is often the case for shorts, but it was difficult to clean up the script with Marco Cipriani, who is a great scriptwriter. I owe very much also to Cinzia Bolognini, who is my editing partner, because she had a great idea on the final cutting of the film.

Coltrane, jazz, places such as the Alexanderplatz Jazz Club in Rome where you filmed, are therefore pretext for the plot but they certainly add a sophisticated touch. Is this causal, or wanted?
Absolutely wanted. I am really grateful to Alexanderplatz for letting me use the space, the club has a special place in the heart of anyone who follows jazz in Italy, and it was a great honor and pleasure to shoot there. Jazz is my great love, and although I just listen to new European jazz (from Esbjörn Svensson Trio onwards, to be precise) I also wanted to humbly tribute John Coltrane, who stands for me as one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Actors and musicians, do we want to mention them?
Absolutely! Guenda Goria has been superb and I would love to work with her again soon, and I'm really grateful to Alberto Gimignani for having been so professionally involved in interpreting a saxophone player, even though he had never touched the instrument before. He was great! The piece played in the live scene was written and performed by saxophonist Igor Marino with Maurizio Capuano and Alberto Botta in double bass and drums. The rest of the score comes from Daniel Karlsson Trio, Tore Brunborg and Massimo Amato (a.k.a. Mono-Drone) a very talented Italian musician.

"The Coltrane Code" has already received recognition and new awards are announced. Do you want to mention them?
Well, yes! It has been selected at many festivals, and it turned up as finalist and/or got an award in one fifth of the occasions. I'm happy for this unexpected result!

Monica, this is not your first short, is it? How did your filmmaking come into being?
Not my first, indeed! I have lost count on how many shorts, music videos and promos I shot, and this is probably a good thing:) My most important work is a documentary shot in Mozambique called "Dignity", which went to some 60 festivals winning lots of awards, I cannot stop wondering at this! I hope I will start filming something new soon, I have several projects looking for a production.

Shall we offer a small gift to Jazzitalia readers, and make it visible for a while?
Absolutely, yes! It is a great honor and pleasure for me to offer it exclusively to Jazzitalia readers! They can view it at this link, inserting the password "jazzitalia". I am really curious about their feedback!

click on the picture to watch the video and then insert the password jazzitalia, valid until the 15th of November 2017

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