Aki Kaurismäki Wants to Set Next Film in Italy, Cast Roberto Benigni as Star

Aki Kaurismaki - P 2013
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The director said he contacted Italian actor and auteur Nanni Moretti about his idea, but Moretti didn't respond. "He won't be in my film," Kaurismäki said.

ROME – Three-time Cannes jury prize winner Aki Kaurismäki says he would like to set his next film in Italy, and he says he’d like Italian Oscar winner Roberto Benigni to star in it.

Claiming he was inspired to make a film in Italy by the tasty wines of Salento, Kaurismäki said the notion of an Italian film was still vague, and that he’d have to work around his limited command of Italian to pull it off.

“I’m seriously thinking of making a movie set in Apulia,” he said in reference to the region (which includes Salento) hosting the 14th edition of the European Film Festival, where he was a guest. “I would have to improve my Italian. I speak well enough to be a tourist, but not to make a film. But I can improve.”

Regarding the cast, Kaurismäki said he mentioned the idea to fellow Cannes regular Nanni Moretti, but Moretti did not respond. “He won't be in my film,” Kaurismäki said, adding he was drawn to the idea of directing a film that featured Life is Beautiful director and star Benigni, whose work he said somehow recalls John Wayne, with “a little Cary Grant.”

Kaurismäki -- who directed a segment in Centro Histórico (Historical Center), which premiered at least year’s International Rome Film Festival, and whose last feature, Le Havre, earned him his third Cannes jury prize -- spoke at the festival in Lecce the same day as his brother and fellow director, Mika Kaurismäki, spoke in Rome at the second edition of the Nordic Film Festival.

Mika Kaurismäki introduced a screening of his latest film, Road North, a quirky road trip film set in his native Finland. After nearly 30 years living abroad, first in Italy in the 1980s and since then in Brazil, the elder Kaurismäki said making a film in Finland feels “exotic” to him now.

Perhaps Aki Kaurismäki can ask for language help from Mika Kaurismäki: the elder brother addressed the crowd in Rome in what he called a “rusty” Italian he learned when living in Italy: “I love Italian and I can understand everything, but I recognize that over the years my Italian speaking skills have become influenced by Portuguese,” he said.

Despite their affinity for the Bel Paese, neither has directed a film with an Italian element to it since Mika Kaurismäki's comedic thriller Helsinki-Napoli All Night Long in 1987.

Twitter: @EricJLyman