Dialogue: Paolo Taviani


It's hard to think about Italy's Taviani brothers separately. Neither Vittorio, who is 79, nor Paolo, 76, has ever made a film without the other. For each of their nearly two dozen features made over more than a half-century, they take turns directing every other scene, and they develop new projects brainstorming while strolling through Rome's Renaissance-era Pamphili Gardens, which are near both men's homes. But off the set often is a different story, as commitments can require them to work on different schedules when the camera isn't rolling. For example, only Paolo is makingthe trip to the Pusan International Film Festival, where he is appearing as part of a retrospective on the brothers' work. And it was Paolo who was free to discuss that honor and his long career with The Hollywood Reporter's Italy correspondent Eric J. Lyman in their offices in Rome's bohemian Trastevere neighborhood.

The Hollywood Reporter: Will this be your first trip to South Korea?
Paolo Taviani: Oh, yes. The chance to visit Korea for the first time was a big factor in my accepting the invitation. I've always been intrigued by Korea, and also by Asia in general.

THR: Are you a fan of Asian films?
Taviani: When I first became aware of Asian films, they were real eye-openers. The first Asian directors I got to know were Japanese. I think the first Asian film I ever saw was (Kenji) Mizoguchi's "Sansho Dayu" (Legend of Bailiff Sansho), which was showing in one of those cinema clubs here in Rome, in the mid-1950s. Soon, I discovered Akira Kurosawa at the Venice Film Festival, and then (Yasujiro) Ozu. Ozu made such a big impression on me that once, when I was in Tokyo, I sought out his tomb so I could pay my respects.

THR: Why do you say the films were eye-openers for you?
Taviani: In some ways they were the first true foreign films I knew. Every Italian of my generation knew the films from Hollywood because they were so prevalent. And of course there were films from Italy and other European countries. But these Asian films helped me realize that there were other ways to make a great film. I think they helped expand my film experience during a formative period of my life.

I know you and Vittorio never work apart, at least not on anything significant. What is it like to always work with the same person and for so many years?
Taviani: We've never directed anything more significant than a television commercial alone, and, yes, of course, when you do that you start to learn how to read the other's mind. Sometimes people can't follow our conversations when we are exchanging ideas because we each just pronounce a few syllables or a fragment of an idea and then the other understands immediately. I remember once that (Italian actor Marcello) Mastroianni was asked what it was like to work with two co-directors, referring to Vittorio and me. And he said he didn't know what the question meant, that we were one director in two bodies. But we are neither the first nor the last brother team to make a name for themselves. It all started with the Lumiere brothers, and it continues today with the Coen brothers.

THR: When you think back over your career, what has been at the heart of your desire to make films?
Taviani: I think we make films for the same reason we live our lives -- to love and to be loved. With films, we can be loved by people we don't know, and who we will probably never meet. One of the wonderful things about this trip to a festival as far away as Pusan is that it means our work has been loved by people on the other side of the world, and now this is my chance to meet a few of them.

Nationality: Italian
Born: Nov. 8, 1931
Films in Pusan: Retrospective on the brothers' films that includes screenings of eight titles
Selected filmography (all screening as part of retrospective): "The Lark Farm" (2007), "The Elective Affinities" (1996), "Fiorile" (1993), "Night Sun" (1990), "Good Morning Babylon" (1987), "Chaos" (1984), "The Night of San Lorenzo" (1982), "Padre Padrone" (1977)
Notable awards (all shared with Vittorio): Festival de Cannes Palme d'Or, "Padre Padrone" (1977); Festival de Cannes Grand Prize of the Jury, "The Night of San Lorenzo" (1982); Donatello Awards for "Chaos" (1985), "The Night of San Lorenzo" (1983) and "Padre Padrone" (1977)