THE STORY/Twenty years later

The friendship between a professor at the university of Bari and a brilliant killer who, in order to repay a favor, offers to kill someone ‘inconvenient’ for him, an enemy that somehow does not seem to exist: “Il Nemico che ti vuole bene” is a black comedy by Swiss director Denis Rabaglia, a co-production between the Italian Falkor Production and Turnus Film from Zurich, supported by the Apulia Film Commission, that will be released in movie theaters in the fall with Medusa.

The ingredients consist of a cast captained by Diego Abatantuono in the role of the professor (Abatantuono also wrote the screenplay together with the director Heidrun Schleef, Luca de Benedittis and David McWater), the killer, Antonio Folletto, “a fantastic actor”, says Rabaglia, Sandra Milo, the Puglian actress Annabella Calabrese, Massimo Ghini, Antonio Catania, Roberto Ciufoli and Mirko Trovato.
And, naturally, the locations in Puglia: the middle class environment of the university of Bari, Trani, where the protagonist lives with his family and the house by the sea in a place which, Rabaglia specifies, “could appear to be the Gargano area although we actually filmed between Lecce and Tricase”.
Five weeks of filming in Puglia
from the end of January to March, also touching on Cavallino, Monteroni, Ruffano and Copertino; and one week in Switzerland, in Gstaad, “because this is a story that needs a north-south polarity, and it was also necessary for it to finish in a faraway jet-set location”.

19 years after “Azzurro” starring Paolo Villaggio which was filmed in 1999 around Porto Badisco, Maglie and Lecce, Rabaglia returns to Puglia with two different and independent projects.
In fact before starting work on the set, last January, the director conducted the
Production Value workshop in Lecce organized by Amsterdam’s Focal resource of which he has been the Head of Studies for 12 years.
A training masterclass aimed at strengthening the fundamental relationship between young assistant directors and European line producers: “I choose twelve, six plus six, from among the candidates that already have at least one European medium budget film under their belt (e.g. € 2 million) and I make them work in couples on very complicated film projects that are carried out in countries different from their own, and with very high costs (the highest this year was € 32 million) for which they have to create the work plan and the budget in cooperation with expert colleagues who already have significant experience in the sector, chosen from among its ‘top level’, like Italians Marco Valerio Pugini, Alberto Mangiante or Stuart Renfrew, assistant director to Stephen Frears. It is a traveling workshop which is hosted by a different regional fund every year and it is supported by Switzerland (Focal Switzerland), Europa Creativa, the Norwegian Film Institute, the Swedish Film Institute and the Finnish Film Foundation.

In the meantime”, continues Rabaglia, “the line producers of “Un nemico che ti vuole bene” suggested I shoot the movie in Puglia. It didn’t take me long to accept: because of the locations, so numerous and varied, the vastness of the region, the financial support (Editor’s note: the film received € 350,000 from the production support fund), the infrastructures”.

In fact, apart from the pleasure of rediscovering some of the professionals (“a grip and a propman had already worked with me on their first film twenty years ago”), and places (“we filmed in an apartment in Palazzo Cezzi in Lecce previously used for “Azzurro”, a location much frequented by cinema and also chosen by Ozpetek”), the situation that faced Rabaglia had changed a lot:
“In those days there was no structure, the workers were almost assistant-workers, now you find professionals in all the departments and in some cases even heads of department to whom I hope the Roman production companies will give even more decisional space and artistic powers. In the film, for example, the head of the sound department was from Puglia and, generally speaking, out of the crew of around 65 people, more than half were local professionals”.

Il Nemico che ti vuole bene” also saw the debut of a new company, Falkor Production, created around the project, with which Mauro and Andrea Preti are beginning their production adventure.
Working alongside them and Rabaglia was a creative producer who is also the film’s editor,
Claudio Di Mauro, “my artistic partner, one of the great editors of Italian cinema, who has worked with everyone, from Antonioni to Muccino, Genovesi, Ficarra and Picone…” Ficarra and Picone’s Tramp Limited is actually among the Italian producers along with the Milan-based company Viva Productions. In addition to Turnus Film, the minority Swiss component features the Federal Culture Office (the Swiss version of the MIBACT [Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism]); and the RSI – Radiotelevisione svizzera italiana [the Swiss public broadcaster].

Nella sezione: Focus on italy