Matteo Garrone: “Dogman, my urban western about a gentle man”

The Italian director here in Cannes for the fourth time. With a film about a dog groomer

Matteo Garrone in Cannes with Alida Baldari Calabria, Marcello Fonte e Edoardo Pesce.

Matteo Garrone to Cannes with Dogman, a film about a gentle dog groomer and petty criminal who becomes embroiled with the thug of his neighbourhood and soon runs out of options for how to deal with him. At the press conference, Garrone elaborated on some of the important themes of the film, which has been dubbed an ‘urban Western’.

Garrone with Marcello Fonte after the screening.

MISTER VENDETTA “Everything began with a dark, minor, cruel event. Thanks to meeting Marcello Fonte, a number of aspects became much clearer in a very natural way. We went further away from the original true event and it acquired a much more human dimension. This is a story which we told as something that could happen to any of us. Of course, we didn’t want to turn the character into a monster. He exudes a deeply human dimension. He’s stuck in this violence that he doesn’t endorse. Marcello is a very naïve character, he’s innocent and I believe that what characterises his humanity lends strength to the film.”

THE VIOLENCE “It was a very cruel event, known for its torture. Marcello is a very gentle, very human person. We filmed the story in chronological order and were faced with an obvious truth. It was clear that the film would finish the way you see on the screen. What interested me the most was the conflict and how he tries to regain his dignity as a human being. He’s a very modern character and this is one of the reasons why we chose to tell this tale. There is some violence in the film, but it’s more psychological. It’s not like a splatter movie. That might be how you construe it at face value but the film should not be viewed as something sordid and bloody. If you want that sort of film, don’t go and see mine as you’ll be disappointed.”

THE DOGS “I love working with dogs. You never know how they are going to react. I think an actor should be happy to work with dogs because he can follow their reactions which are unforeseeable and remain v lively in the scene because you don’t know what will happen. Marcello was a natural, he seemed very much at ease. The scene when he eats with the dog is absolutely amazing. There was a close link between the two, as Jack the dog lived with Marcello and slept with him.”

THE LOCATION “Villaggio Coppola is a place I know well because in 2001 I shot parts of The Embalmer there and I went there to shot a couple of scenes of Gomorrah there. I love the light, it’s always quite magical. The first part has more sunlight: the second part, when he comes back from prison, is greyer, there are more storms. But what led us to shoot there was that we needed a location that would be reminiscent of a Western. It was fundamental for Marcello to be in direct contact with the other characters living in this place as this has direct consequences for his final choices and his relationship with Simoncino. It’s not something that could have been shot in a big city.”

THE SOCIETY “This character lives all sorts of contradictions which we view as very modern. Fear is at the heart of the story. There is also violence and how one contends with it. There’s this desire to be appreciated by other people. He’s in conflict because he’s very weak. The theme of fear really haunts the character. We always try to work on characters which are like archetypes who aren’t just linked to the present or to any fleeting moment in time. We want them to lead people to reflect on certain matters. Conflicts don’t change over the years. We wanted to talk about my country, but at the same time have a more global message. That’s why we are here: because our film also depicts certain thoughts and emotions and is relevant to people from all corners of the world.”


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