INTERVIEW WITH UNOFEX AWARDS WINNER FRANCESCO TORRE & MICHAEL CARLo ALLEN
As a follow-up to the UNOFEX Film Awards 2022, we are happy to present the winners of this years Award in the category Best Short Film, representing the country Italy. In this interview we asked the filmmakers Michael Carlo Allen and Francesco Torre personal questions and questions about their film careers.
So let's start:
1.) Hello Francesco, Hello Michael how are you today and how do you feel about winning best short film at the UNOFEX Film Awards 2022?
A: We are extremely delighted to have received the UNOFEX Film Awards 2022 for Best Short Film and are excited to finally share this story with an international audience.
2. Are there any persons you want to say, ‘thank you’?
Francesco: I would like to thank many people, but I will limit myself: First of all, I would like to thank Salvatore, the protagonist of the story, my great-uncle. The magic that made this project come true was a discovery of hundreds of letters written by him during the Second World War. Then the second thank you certainly goes to the director Michael. His eye and his incredible artistic vision made this project unique. I cannot fail to mention the incredible Cast (Marika - Michele - Simone - Giulia - Salvo) who, with dedication and courage, made all this possible. Last but not least, my most loving thanks go to my family.
Michael: I have to thank our amazing cast and crew. I’ll specifically name Francesco for inviting me into this incredible story and into his Sicilian life and family. I also must mention producer and DOP Dario Baldini who worked tirelessly with me to bring this vision to life. Every one on our small crew deserves huge credit!
3. Tell us about your background.
Francesco: I am an actor, born and raised in Sicily, land of "Navigators and Artists”. My artistic journey began in Marsala, in the province of Trapani, my hometown. From there, very young, I moved to Siracusa where I attended the National Academy of Ancient Drama. Four years ago I met Michael while acting on a film in Sicily. From there, we started an artistic journey that is giving us incredible satisfaction, on the national and international scene. For some years now, I have moved to Milan, the most active cultural center in Italy in my opinion.
Michael: I’ve been making films for over ten years now. Half of my life I work in American sports broadcast, and the other half I write and direct films and documentaries in Italy. I’ve recently relocated to Trapani, Sicily and our production company is developing multiple projects of all different genres.
4. How did you get involved in film and how did you both met?
Francesco: My first approach to cinema was a real artistic baptism. I had the honor of playing a small role in the TV series "Il Giovane Montalbano", for Italian TV. In 2019, my agent sent me a casting call for an international film, which was to be shot in Sicily. I went to the audition and there I met Michael, an American director of Sicilian origins. I won that audition, among other things by shamelessly pretending to understand the English language. After a few months, we started filming "The Sound of the Island" and there I decided to learn the language, trying to give my best to the story, and I think I did a good job. At the end of that project, with Michael, we decided to create our artistic partnership, which led to us producing a travel series (Mike Loves Sicily), led us to the foundation of our Sicilian-American Society: 3 Points Productions.
Michael: Yes, it’s true: Francesco promised me that he spoke fluent English. Although he didn’t, I’m glad he was ambitious enough to say that, and that showed his spirit and work ethic to go and learn the language and also show his dedication to the project.
5. How long did it take to research and make the film?
Francesco: Relatively little. In 3 months we worked on the script and the search for the cast. After pre-production, we started shooting, which magically lasted a couple of weeks. And this result, I am sure, was the absolute merit of our incredible Crew (Dario, Valerio, Valeria, Vittorio), to whom I dedicate my heartfelt and sincere thanks.
Michael: Francesco has been working on this story for years. When he brought it to me, I was inspired by his long and personal journey of trying to get this project made. That said, the actual turnaround time from script to screen was just a few months, something we’re quite proud of.
6. What was your greatest experience when making “My Dear Salvatore”?
Francesco: Filming was for me, as it is a family story, a real roller coaster of emotions. But certainly the most emotional moment was, when we were shooting the last scene of the film, I ideally greeted the role of my uncle Salvatore. I remember it was a very cold and humid night. It was a very complex scene from an actor's point of view. At Mike's "CUT," as the cast and crew approached me to hug me, I broke down in tears. I remember that a few minutes later, back in my dressing room, I sent my girlfriend a tearful video, which I saw a few days ago made me realize that we had really done a great job.
Michael: There are so many moments that were so unbelievably beautiful and emotional for me. Setting up the partisan sequence was so cool. I couldn’t believe that we were shooting war scenes in the forest with guns in full WWII costumes. Another moment, much smaller, was a time when we were doing the final letter voiceovers which we did in my bedroom with just two actors, Marika and Michele, and the audio tech, Vale. The performances were so intense and powerful, I had to leave the room and regain my composure in order to finish the scene. The shoot was filled with these amazing, intimate moments.
7. What, in your opinion, is the most important quality in a filmmaking?
Francesco: I think the sincerity and truthfulness of the story are certainly the most important values in a film. Another very important value for me, as an insider, but also as a spectator, is the use of lights and shadows.
Michael: Filmmaking is all about collaboration and people. The story and characters are obviously extremely important, but having the right dynamic and energy with a team of people on a shoot is
what can set it apart for me.
8. Who are your favorite directors?
Francesco: Federico Fellini is my favorite artist. His genius made him an absolute legend. I think Michael agrees with me in this.
Michael: Yes, I am very inspired by Fellini, as well as countless others, but I’ll mention Antonioni, Kubrick and Ozu as a few of my personal favorites.
9. What is your next film?
Francesco: I was talking about it with Michael some time ago, I would like to make a horror movie. If I had to say what I would like our next film to be, I have no doubts: Mio Caro Salvatore - The feature film.
Michael: - Yes, let’s make the feature version. The script is ready!
10. Would you like to share some final words?
Francesco: Every artist must try day by day to give beauty to the public. Now, given what we've been through and unfortunately we're going through, we need beauty.
Michael: I’ll just say again how pleased I am to be getting some recognition for this film specifically. There was a magical vibe while making this, and I’m so happy to finally share this project with the world!
11. Would you recommend the UNOFEX to other people or filmmaker? **not necessarily to answer
Francesco: I'm getting to know UNOFEX now, but from what I'm learning so far, I would recommend it to anyone around the World who isn't afraid to create beauty.
Michael: UNOFEX has been great, and we would definitely recommend their festival without hesitation!
UNOFEX: Thank you very much for the interview!
We are glad to announce the UNOFEX Nominees day at the Grand Hotel National in Lucerne Switzerland.
UNOFEX Awards - Sandra Zellweger wins best actress Award in 2022.
Timur Bekmambetov - russian director - has never been one to shy away from a technical challenge. Read more
We welcome the international actress Eman Abo Al Nasr as our first Union of Excellence member from the UAE. Read more