Italian director Elia Romanelli explores people's contrasting ideas of Venice through his latest film Venice Elsewhere
The 65-minute film captures people's imaginative ideas about Venice
With its 116 islands, winding waterways, cobbled courtyards, beautiful architecture, and tiny back streets, Venice is one of the most picturesque and recognisable cities in the world. Now, imagine Venice in a different setting, maybe as a small village or Venice as a hotel or a bar on the outskirts of a city. It's these swapped identities of Venice that are explored in Italian director Elia Romanelli’s film Venice Elsewhere. The film was screened at the recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival.
The 65-minute film takes us on a journey into the fantasy that has been created around the city. We are introduced to many people on screen with a dream to visit Venice but haven't been there owing to their circumstances. They are however convinced with their imaginative image of the city. For some, it is a beautiful parlour in Zagreb, a giant mall in Istanbul, a Romanian village with more sheep than people, a waterway in the periphery of Berlin, and much more.
“The film is a reflection of identity and imagination. Europe has a strong identity with immediately recognisable icons and Venice is an iconic city with many territorial symbols. I wanted to attempt to redesign Venice. I wanted to find the original Venice again, perhaps the one that came forth from a willful act of the imagination,” says Elia, who is an anthropologist and took about six years to complete the film. The film captures people's different imaginations of Venice. For example, a young Turkish couple who are about to get married dream of a honeymoon in Venice, they find a fake version of it at an Istanbul shopping mall.
“We were very keen to make it our best work. Showing imagination is not easy and it is not an easy subject, especially if you are shooting something in Italy. It took a lot of time to arrange finances and resources. We took three years to shoot only one half of the story because we decided to shoot till we were sure about everything we wanted,” explains the director. With an illustrious career as a filmmaker, Elia has made some award-winning films like Lën. Pensieri e storie di tre artisti gardenesi, Aqua salsa. Racconti di donne in voga, and Uromastyx Meliensis among many others.
Clearly, Elia’s imaginative Venices are far from Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge and the black gondola gliding down green canals, yet they all look convincing with the reflection of human identities, cultures, tastes and much more.
Yes, Elia’s Venice Elsewhere prospers with human imagination as men and women give life to their own idea of Venice while the real city is shown suspended between its exceptional floods and a human desert of contagion. We caught up with the director over a zoom call almost at the midnight to Indian time to talk about the city and why he wanted to create Venice of his imagination elsewhere.
“When I conceived this idea I hoped to meet people who dissuade me from the ephemeral idea of Venice. I wanted people to tell me their idea of Venice and it’s their imaginations and anti-historic viewpoints that we follow in this film,” Elia insists.
The film is touring international film festivals and Elia tells us that he needed reactions from a global audience for the film. “The line between different cinemas is being blurred now. We have amazing films being made in every country and I have to admit that with Venice Elsewhere it was important that it goes out and meets more people. I wanted true reactions and questions from people,” he confesses and adds that the audience too wants to see global cinema, “There is not much risk in making films because there is an audience for every work. You just need to have a fair approach.” Is there any place that you want to visit or create elsewhere? “India and Australia. I am fascinated with these two countries,” laughs the director as he signs off.