THE LAST

Some autobiographical notes…

INTRO

In my previous blog, entitled A New Thing, I stated that in each of my films there are some autobiographical elements present, some “pieces of my life”. This is the extent of the direct influence that my personal experience has on my artistic work, but I never, until now, wrote autobiographical notes, this is a new thing for me and this is why I probably decided to write a blog entitled THE LAST that will contain a lot of autobiographical elements.

People often write about situations or fields where they are better than everybody else, where they are first. This is normal and fair, of course, but sometimes it could be very helpful in understanding the reality of eventual merit if we bring our memory back to many situations where we were worst than everybody else, to situations where we were the last ones.

David Maria Turoldo

The Last One (Gli Ultimi) is the title of a very beautiful Italian film made in 1962. This film’s screenplay was written by Padre David Maria Turoldo who also directed the film and who was my friend and one of my early mentors. The film depicts the situation, between 1930 and 1950, of the very poor rural community of Friuli, the part of Italy where Turoldo and I were born. 

There is a lot in this amazing film and we should remember that when it was screened in Udine in 1962 many viewers felt very offended; it happened because they didn’t want to be identified with the “last ones” described in the film. Of course they misunderstood the film; the reality of Friuli in 1962 was incredibly better than in the 1930s, and the film was clearly giving merit to the people of Friuli for the progress they achieved. 

When I watched the film I didn’t feel offended; to the contrary, I was proud of the progress that Friulians made in those years.

I believe that, if and when evaluating the facts of our life, we should not be afraid to recognize that in many situations we were the last ones, we should instead be very grateful and proud if from the last place we progressed to better situations.

In this blog, I will make a list of the several situations where I was the last and how I reacted to every one of them. Here is the First Chapter:

CHAPTER I

The Last of Three Children

I was born last of three children. I can say, about the relationship with my family, that I’m proud of few things: of my daughter, of having been close, on a daily basis (by phone only because I was in another country), to my sister Ugolina in her last few months of life, and of what I did for my father and my mother when my father came back from Brazil after never seen or heard from him in 33 years.

These were my parents and this was their love story.

My mother Lina and father Ugo reunited after 33 years and his return from Brazil.

When I was six months old, my father separated from my mother and left Italy for Brazil.

It was 1947 and the war had just ended, fascism had fallen and, for my father, all this was not easy.

It happened in 1946. My mother already had my sister Ugolina and my brother Roberto; with a son and a daughter, in those very troubled times, she was not looking to have other kids.

One day, my mother was walking in the city and had her palm “read” by a Gipsy lady. The Gipsy lady told her that she would have had one more kid. My mother was very surprised and, maybe, not really happy but the lady told her not to complain because she will have a son and that son would have been her fortune.

Pio Pischiutta

My father, the doctor Ugo Pischiutta, was the brother of Pio Pischiutta. Pio had been the first fascist martyr in Italy who died in 1921 at seventeen years of age. It is still not clear if he was killed by the antifascists or if he died in combat killed by friendly fire. One street in Udine, the city of the Pischiutta family and where I was born, was dedicated to Pio Pischiutta. 

My father was younger than Pio and logically he venerated his brother and was active in the fascist party. With the fall of fascism my father lost the very good job he had and his social position.

This is when my father left for Brazil. I was six months old; the family he left behind was composed of my mother, my mother’s parents, my grandmother’s sister, my brother, my sister and me. My mother was alone with three old people and three children to support, on a small teacher’s salary.

I saw my father again when I was four: he returned from Brazil with a beautiful young woman, an elegant car and lots of money.

He asked to meet his three children (my brother Roberto was eight and my sister Ugolina was ten).

We met at my aunt’s house, my father’s sister.

What I remember about the meeting was that my father was a beautiful man and he was dressed very elegantly.

These were his words during the meeting: “I called you to ask if you prefer to live a brilliant life with your father or a miserable life with your mother.”

It was 1951 and we were really poor: I wore clothes and shoes previously used by my brother, and food was rationed and we had to do everything on a tight budget. Nevertheless, we loved our mother and our response was that we preferred to live with her the life that was possible for us.

For many years that followed, we never heard or received any letters from my father. Many stories were told to me by different people, some probably true others probably false. My life continued, and my career in cinema and theatre developed.

In 1980 I was in Friuli, in Northern Italy, and I was shooting the movie The Comoedia, the most important film of my career up to that moment.

Anyone who knows about making movies, knows that making an international film – shot in North Italy and in New York – as a director and producer is not easy. Every minute of the day I was surrounded by actors and technical people. I didn’t have a minute for myself during the shoot.

At noon, one day, I was in my office with several other people: the secretary told me that there was a phone call for me, something very personal. I took the call but I was bothered because I was in the midst of many other things. A woman’s voice from the other end of the line told me: “I am a social worker and I have an old man here, a gentleman, a man who had a lot in his life but now he has nothing. When he arrived, he was wearing a very elegant blue coat… of many years ago.

This man is your father, he is here with us, in Friuli, and he wants to get together with his wife. It has no other interests; if his wife doesn’t want to reunite with him, he’s determined to kill himself. What should I do?”

This is the phone call I received during filming.

I replied that my mother was quiet now and that my father never wrote a letter in the last 33 years. I also told her that I heard many stories about my father and that I don’t know him. Before organizing a meeting with my mother I had to be sure who my father really was. I told her to give me a few days and I promised that I would call her with my decision.

I do not deny that the call had shocked me. First, I asked all the people who were in the office to go out for a while. Then, I called my brother and my sister. I informed them of the call. My brother said that he had no interest in meeting my father, my sister told me to keep her informed and that, if funds were needed to help our father she, like me, was willing to pay.

Considering all the things I had heard about my father, some not so beautiful and reassuring, before deciding to have him meet my mother I thought I needed to know more about him. So, I did what I had never done: I contacted the only detective agency in town and asked for a report on everything my father had done in the last 33 years. the Agency asked me three days to produce a report. Three days later, they told me that they know very little: they found out that when he was a military man in Italy he spent a night in prison because he returned late back at the barracks. They also informed me of the business he had in Brazil: he had owned a big restaurant where all the Italians were eating for free and a very large extension of land that would have required huge capital to develop anything on it. Aside from that, the detectives told me that it was against Italian law to investigate someone’s criminal past in another country.

My wife Olga with my daughter and my mother Lina.

So, to make it short, I called the social worker back and told her I was ready to meet my father in a coffee shop in the city. The appointment was fixed; I went to the appointment with my wife Olga.

It was two in the afternoon, the coffee place was very large and there were about 100 patrons inside. I arrived 15 minutes ahead of time. I sat at a table in front of the entrance door.

When I last met my father I was four years old; now, I was 33 and I didn’t know if I was going to recognize him. I looked with interest at every old man who came in. After a few minutes, my father arrived wearing his blue coat. Nice coat but definitely old. He was carrying a walking stick and it was evident that he had glaucoma. I approached him and asked if he was Ugo? He replied ‘Yes, I am your father, where is Lina?’.

My mother, Dr. Prof. Lina Maria Gardi.

Lina was the name of my mother. Before bringing him to her, I wanted to talk to him and be sure that he wouldn’t represent problems for my mother. So we sat down for a coffee and I introduced him to my wife. We talked for a while without telling each other any important things. I saw that he was a true gentleman and I was impressed by his sense of humour. I decided to let him meet my mother and brought my car to the coffee shop’s door. My mother was at home, about 20 km away. At some point on our journey, my father asked me to stop the car; we were in front of a barber’s shop. My father told me that when a gentleman goes to meet a lady, he first shaves. So my wife and I waited outside the barber’s shop and then we took him to meet my mother. They met for the first time in 29 years. We left them alone to talk to each other. I was pleased to see that my mother was happy and that, for my father, everything was very normal and clear.

Meanwhile, my production manager and some actors came by my house because, as I said before, all this happened while I was in the middle of production with my film The Comoedia. I told everyone the story and they were all happy. We opened a bottle of sparkling wine and raised a toast to the “newlyweds”.

Here are my parents, together again at home in Italy:

And this is how my father and mother came back together and kept each other company for the last few years until his death.

My father suffered from emphysema and, close to the end of his life, I took him to the hospital. He used to drink a bottle of wine every day with my mother while playing cards. Like me, he smoked a lot and, as a young man, he also was a swimmer. I remember the day after a severe emphysema crisis I went to see him at the hospital. When I arrived he told me to close the door and, from under the mattress, he took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one, in the hospital! That was my father; my production manager, Giorgio Murru, who had become his friend during the film, called him the Mega President.

For three years, we were together and I often visited my father and mother. In the meantime, my mother had prepared all the necessary documents for my father’s pension and had completely solved her financial situation. So they lived quietly and kept each other company.

The DVD cover of my film The Comoedia available on Amazon.

My life and my career went on: my film The Comoedia had been a great success and came in third at the New York Film Festival among 3,800 other films. The time had come for me to emigrate to America.

I remember my father’s reaction very well when I told him I would leave: “I can’t tell you to stay. When I, years ago, decided to leave, I left. If now is your time, I can only give you my best wishes”.

This is when I left and went to Canada. I kept in touch with my parents; we were on the phone once a week. Three years later, my father died a victim to his last emphysema crisis. My mother, Dr. Prof. Lina Maria Gardi, died much later in 2002. After my father’s death I stayed in touch with my mother until the very end. My father had been dead for two years when my mother called me very angrily one day because she found a big bouquet of red roses on my father’s grave. She was jealous. These were my parents and this was their love story.

______________________
NOTES/LINKS:
1. My film The Comoedia on Amazon: HERE
2. My film Untimo Incontro A Venezia on Amazon: HERE
3. Documentary Bruno Pischiutta, Film Director on Amazon: HERE
4. More info about my past and upcoming films: HERE

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The Vision and Creation of the Magazine “DARIA!”

A Chapter from the Autobiographical Blog “The Last”

by Bruno Pischiutta

It happened 15 years ago, in 2004, on an early summer evening, at about 7:00 PM. 

Daria Trifu and I were walking on Bloor Street, in Toronto, and we were going to see the new beautiful windows of Holt Renfrew, one of the best fashion stores in the city.

Daria and I like to walk in New York, in Cannes, in London and wherever we are, because we believe that you see more when you walk than when you just drive the car. It is however a fact that, if you want to see, you have to look. In a city, if you look up, you’ll always make new discoveries. 

That’s exactly what happened that evening when we were walking in the center of Toronto, looking up to the skyscrapers and the tall buildings on Bloor Street and to the lights in their windows. One building was special, on the South-West corner of Yonge & Bloor, and you could see that the entire second floor was an open space surrounded by arched windows (what used to be the second floor of the Stollery’s men wear store at Yonge and Bloor). Daria immediately fantasized that the space would be perfect for a publishing house, a design studio or a fashion workshop. It was, in fact, the store housing the atelier of the Stollery’s Men Store.

Daria said: “It looks like special, maybe they are making a magazine there.”

I replied: “A magazine?”

Daria: “Yes, a magazine. (Pause) I always wanted to publish a magazine, since forever…”

I: “I didn’t know that. Thinking about it, a magazine would be good for our organization and our business if we owned it; if you like it and if you will take care of it, we can do it and we will.”

This is how, in few minutes, we decided to create and publish a magazine. 

We arrived at Holt Renfrew and took a long look at the beautiful displays in their windows. After that, we went for a bite and few drinks to toast to our decision.

Here are examples (different years) of window displays at Holt Renfrew:

We spoke a lot about the magazine that evening and in the following two days; even if we were busy with other work, something very important, we continued to think and speak about the magazine. We were approaching the moment of leaving for Africa to shoot “Punctured Hope: A Story about Trokosi and the Young Girls’ Slavery in Today’s West Africa”, the film I directed and Daria produced and that we later qualified for nomination consideration at the Academy Awards® and was proposed for nomination by The Hollywood Political Film Society in two categories, ‘Best Film on Human Rights’ and ‘Best Film Expose’ of 2009. 

After those few days of thinking about the magazine this is what we decided:

  • The look of the magazine will be a mixture between the looks of Vanity Fair and of National Geographic. The magazine’s content will be illustrated by many extremely beautiful and original pictures;

Here are some pages from Daria! magazine selected from the several issues published from 2005 to 2018:

  • Considering that the film we were going to shoot was in Ghana, the next magazine will contain a lot about Africa. During the filming I took some pics, especially behind the scenes’ shots. Daria, who is very good in taking pictures, took about 3,000 of them in Africa. The best were published in the first issue of the magazine;

Here are some pages from the ‘Special on Africa’ articles published in the 2005 and 2007 issues of Daria! magazine:

  • Daria will have the total power of decision in choosing the content for the magazine;
  • I will be in charge of creating most of the covers and I’ll have the possibility to suggest subjects for its articles;
  • The cover will be completely black for two principal reasons: marketing wise, to differentiate our magazine from all other magazines and so that, if anybody wants to know what the cover is about, they will have to turn the page;
  • The magazine will not be addressed to the general reader, but to the English speaking media executives worldwide;
  • Whenever possible, the magazine will be printed yearly in thousands of copies that will be distributed at the most relevant film festivals (Cannes, AFM, Montreal, Monaco, etc.) and it will be available on line;
  • The subjects of the articles will always be original in art, business and entertainment. Regarding subjects in film, the magazine will be oriented to the discovery and presentation of new talents;

Here are some pages from Daria! magazine (art, business and talent) selected from the several issues published from 2005 to 2018:

  • The title of the magazine will be “DARIA!” and Daria Trifu will be the Editor in Chief.

These were the starting points; some of them changed in time, but most of them are still guiding our today’s publishing choices. 

This is how we commenced our publishing adventure: we contracted journalists from Canada, USA, UK and Mexico and we decided to publish the first issue as soon as we were back from Africa, after the shooting of “Punctured Hope”. 

One of the more challenging new facts, was to be able to match the deadlines of our film productions with the magazine’s. This was especially difficult for Daria who was taking care of the whole organization necessary to arrive to the moment of publishing. I had much less to do and everything I was doing for the magazine was for me more a pleasure than a job. 

This is how I created the first cover of DARIA! 15 years ago.

I was feeling the necessity to give an image to the title: clearly the proper image was the one of Daria Trifu because she was the magazine’s founder and editor in chief, but I didn’t want to just publish a photo of her. Considering that Daria looked (and still does) much younger of her age and that she has a very well proportioned petit body, I though that I could photograph her close to the statue of Edgar Degas “Little Dancer of Fourteen Years.” I always loved Degas’ statue which I saw at the Ottawa Art gallery during a beautiful and comprehensive exhibition of Degas’ artistic works. Even if the original model of the statue had an appearance that was a little sick like the inspirations for “Les Fleurs du mal” of Charles Baudelaire and Daria is definitely more proportionate and has a healthier look, I put Daria’s image together with the Little Dancer. I had a reproduction of the statuette, about 25 centimeters tall, that was executed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and, with a simple photographic effect, I made Daria and the statuette look the same height and appear in basically the same pose. I liked the first cover very much; it was a sensational success and still today I believe it is one of the best covers of the magazine. Judge by yourself, here it is: 

The Premiere Issue of the magazine was presented to the media and film personalities during a party we held at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, California while the American Film Market took place in 2005. For that occasion, thousands of printed copies were distributed at the AFM and inside the principal hotels in Santa Monica.

Here is Daria!’s Premiere Issue (2005):

That was the first cover, it was created in Canada in 2005 and, the following is the last one I realized for the magazine 13 years later, in 2018, in Greece.

Actress Christie Norton and Director Bruno Pischiutta on a brake during shootings.

This one features my dear friend actress Christie Norton and it is, at the same time, the cover of the magazine and the poster of the 2018 edition of Global Nonviolent Film Festival, the most important and renown non violent Film Festival in the world. When I took this picture on a Greek beach, it was a very cold day in January and Christie was very courageous to pose covered in a veil only…

In all these years, the magazine was always present in my mind. As I write this blog, Daria is already starting to prepare the 2019 edition. 

Here is Daria!’s 2018 issue:

We can say that, in time, the magazine has become known and followed by the world media executives. DARIA!’s team has interviewed and collaborated with some very famous people such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Vivica A. Fox, Bill Dryton (founding father of Social Entrepreneurship), and more, as well as some young talents not yet known to the public such as actors Taylor Williams, Christie Norton, Lesha Bey, Joe Legend, etc. The magazine has been presented and distributed in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Las Vegas, London, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Milan, Bucharest and many, many others.

Here are some photos from the several world events where Daria! magazine was distributed throughout the years:

Publishing DARIA! gives us a lot of satisfaction. One of the moments of “satisfaction” came in 2006 when a very famous magazine was inspired by our DARIA!. Daria Trifu, in the Editor’s Page of the 2018 issue, tells the story and lists the facts; here is part of what she wrote:

“In 2006, I envisioned an issue dedicated to Africa and to social entrepreneurship in general. It was because I produced a film in Ghana, and while there, I discovered Africa. I wanted Daria! to become the first publication that looks at some aspects of the world that were never addressed in main stream media. 

I envisioned the top personalities in the world being interviewed by our magazine and, in conclusion, Warren Buffet, Melinda and Bill Gates being featured on Daria!’s cover.

I worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the article on fighting malaria and their initiatives in Africa, and they provided the picture for the cover of the magazine. In the process of making the 2007 issue, I communicated with Oprah’s office, Bono’s management (and twenty plus others) and outlined the vision while requesting their participation.

Here is Daria!’s 2007 issue:

In May, the special issue of Daria on Africa and Social Entrepreneurship was printed but it was not ready for its mass distribution, so it was kept in the printing house in Florida. One day, a month or so later, I came out of my house, and on the newsstands, there was the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair. Different covers shot by Annie Leibovitz, one of which was similar to Daria!’s.”

In conclusion:

I’ll continue to work on the magazine until I’m be able to, because I like it, I think that it is worth and because it’s one of the ways I communicate with the world. I really hope that Daria Trifu will go ahead and will publish many more editions after I’ll be long gone.

Bruno Pischiutta

Ice, Sculptures and Film in My Beloved Yorkville in Toronto, Canada

Every year, February is the month when the very beautiful Ice Fest takes place in Toronto. February is also the month when Elio Dell’Unto, Canadian producer who works with me from 28 years and President of our Film Festival’s Jury, and I celebrate our birthdays. Elio’s birthday is on February 14th, the same day of San Valentine, and mine is on February 15th.

The Ice Fest takes place in Yorkville, an area where a wonderful village used to be located in the old times, that is now the center of Toronto. My late friend, the great architect Boris Zerafa, had the vision to transform the old mews of the village, the old stables where the carriage riders put their horses to sleep, into a very elegant retail and residential area. Yorkville is one of the best parts of Toronto and, for many years, it was the base of the Toronto Film Industry.

I live in Toronto for more than 30 years, few steps from Yorkville, and I have a lot of great memories about the village. I shot some part of my first Canadian film “Maybe” in Yorkville, Yorkville was the old center of the Toronto Film Festival and, for several years, every meeting between filmmakers and/or between filmmakers and film investors was always taking place in Yorkville. Many years ago, we the filmmakers, used to go for a drinks at Hemingway’s, for a bite at Sassafraz and we cut our hair at the Roman Empire, or at Tony&Guy the Yorkville hairdressers.

This year, Elio Dell’Unto went to visit the Ice Fest and sent me the pictures that I post here because the Fest is dedicated to the film industry and the important role the industry had in Toronto, for many years, and still has.

So, Happy Birthday to Elio! I hope that you all enjoy the pictures of the Ice Sculptures, here they are:

OUR INTERNATIONAL CASTING CALL

On October 31, 2018 our company published an International Casting Call to find the actors we need for the productions we schedule to do in the next two/three years. The budget of these productions amount to US $27,800,000.

The scheduled productions are:

  1. THE BAD JOKE feature film;
  2. A TV SERIES of 13 Half Hour Films of different cast;
  3. UNTITLED 906 feature film;
  4. SINS AND SINNERS feature film.

One of the Divisions of our company is a Talents Agency. The Division’s name is Global Film Actors Agency (www.globalfilmactors.com). Our Agency is only for film actors and gives to the members the best possible deal: an engagement prize in company’s shares, it does not charge any fees whatsoever and it does not charge any commission from the actors. The Agency has only few members, about 40. They have been chosen between the best English speaking actors worldwide. We have very good actors but we don’t have, in the Agency, a number of them big enough to fulfill our casting need for the scheduled productions. This is why we published our International Casting Call.

The results of our Call were great: we had about 250 actors answering. Many of them are very good actors, some of them, about ten, also applied to be members of our Agency.

In the last three months I have studied all I could about the actors who answered our Call; I respect the actors very much. I was one of them years ago and I know what they are going trough. I watched, whenever possible, their show reels, I wrote to them and I interviewed on Skype and/or WatsApp all of them. I still have to meet one of them because, few days ago, he had to go to a funeral of one of his family members: he will call me when he will be all right.

I met wonderful people and some really great actors. I also met some actors who deserve a shot to stardom and I gave them the possibility to be in our Agency. I had to reject a lot of the applicants (about 180), simply because they were not good enough to participate to our productions.

These are the final numbers:

We have, today, in our Agency about 43 members; they will have priority in the casting.

We have met other actors (about 70) that we will invite to partecipate to our productions: they are mazing artists and I’m looking forward to work with them.

I have to thank Flaminia Graziadei, who will probably be the director of the TV SERIES, for sending to us a number of very good actors.

About the whole experience, I tried to avoid mistakes: mistakes are always possible and, unfortunately, they are always happening. I believe that some of the mistakes I made in this casting were to over evaluate some of the actors.

In conclusions we are OK: we have over 100 good actors, including our Agency’s members, that could work in our productions. The casting, however, is going on: we still need some teen-agers and some kids. I will answer to whomever will apply the whole year around.

If you like to act in our next productions please apply.

Bruno

Follow-up on My March 29th Blog

An Update About My Eye and My Dog

Many people are still asking what happened with my eye and my dog. My eye is fully recovered after the ‘foreign object’ was removed by the doctor and my sight is back to normal.

I never found my dog, Monica, again. Knowing how wonderful she is, I can only hope that a good family adopted her.

Happy New Year!

Bruno

A New Thing…

Part of my job as a film-author is to write screenplays. A screenplay is the artistic literary extension of some of my ideas and experiences; after the writing, my job is to transform the screenplay into a film. In directing a film I, again, make use of my most intimate visions and of my personal culture. 

For the above reasons, I can say that, in each of my films, there are some autobiographic elements present, some “pieces of my life”. This is the extent of the direct influence that my personal experience has in my artistic work, but I never, until now, wrote autobiographic notes, this is a new thing for me and this is why I probably decided to write a blog entitled THE LAST that will contain a lot of autobiographical elements.

Unfortunately my wife of 50 years, artist Olga Cechova, passed away on August 13 in Toronto (Canada); I got the news via e-mail because I’m in Greece developing the work of my company, Global Film Studio. 

I was very hurt by this event; her death was very sudden and unexpected. She was a very healthy and strong woman but a very aggressive form of leukemia, in just a few days, caused her death. When this happened, I was shocked and I could not think properly to anything for a few days. That is when I had the idea to write an autobiographic blog; I don’t know how big of an influence Olga’s death had on my decision, but I was thinking a lot about how fast, sometime, bad things happen and how important it can be to write the relevant parts of our story while we still have time.

I started to write THE LAST around August 25 but I had to give priority to the publishing of DARIA! magazine and to the making of the Global Nonviolent Film Festival because these are two important parts of my company’s yearly activities.

DARIA! is an arts, entertainment and business yearly magazine that we are publishing since 2005.

On September 10, the IX issue of DARIA! was published and the seventh edition of the Festival took place between September 20 and September 30.

To read the complete ninth issue of DARIA! you can visit this link:

http://www.dariamagazine.com 

Established in 2012, Global Nonviolent Film Festival is the most important and renown nonviolent film festival in the world.

To have a complete vision of the Festival, follow this link and you will be able to see the video presentation of the 2018 Awards:

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/globalfilmfestival 

Now that these two important events have been completed, I’ll go ahead with the writing of THE LAST, the blog with a lot of autobiographic notes, that I started at the end of August. The writing will take time because I want to be as precise as I can in the details. When the blog will be completed I’ll publish it here.