Ermanno Olmi with the "Pardo d'Onore"

LOCARNO - Monday the International Film Festival of Locarno, the 57th edition, enjoyed one of the most beautiful moments of this edition. At exaction ten o’clock in the morning, with rigorous Swiss punctuality, the meeting with Ermanno Olmi began. It would not be appropriate to call the appointment a “press conference”, because the Bergamasque Director charmed and illuminated those present with reflections, thoughts on various topics. Above all was peace, forgiveness, the futility of revenge, war and aggression. A touching and profound meeting. Next to him was Bud Spencer, the Roman actor who starred in “Cantando dietro i paraventi”. “I’ve stopped throwing punches” joked the friendly Bud, but from his expression, from his behavior with Maestro Olmi, it was easy to see the profound respect together with a great joy. The poetic and reflective film was screened that evening in the Piazza Grande in front of more than five thousand spectators who rewarded the film with a long applause when it was over. It’s a shame that in the moments preceding the screening, when the “Pardo d’onore” award was giving to Olmi by Irene Bignardi, the director of the Festival, the often confused presenter did not ask any questions of the great director. The crowd even started calling out: “Olmi, say something”. A few words by Bud Spencer, greeted with exaggerated affection by many spectators, and a sweet and emotional Jun Ichikawa charmed the audience with sincere smiles.

Bud Spencer at the press conference


Article from "Il Tirreno" - August 10, 2004

Olmi, man of peace
The director is awarded at Locarno for his dedication to and love of liberty

The director Ermanno Olmi with Bud Spencer and the actrice Jun Ichikawa
LOCARNO. The dedication and the freedom: also these qualities were recognized internationally in Ermanno Olmi, besides his skill behind the camera, and they led to the great direction receiving the “Pardo d’onore” award at the Film Festival of Locarno. “Cantando dietro i paraventi”, the latest film which symbolizes the culture of peace and forgiveness, a film unknown in Switzerland and in the most of Europe, was shown yesterday evening in Piazza Grande. And the show yesterday honored a very cultured man, who is not ashamed of having finished only high school, and of haivng the ancient wisdom of Bergamasque farmers. An auto-didact who can seduce with his poetry the likes of Abbas Kiarostami and Ken Loach. “It’s not easy for me to deal with these events,” he explains modestly to the organizers.
He sits next to Bud Spencer and the Japanese actress Jun Ichigawa, and continues: “I’m not just saying that. I feel like a normal person and I feel bewildered.” Olmi emphasizes with serenity the importance of the negative judgments on his work: “It’s like going to the tailor; you are reflected, and you are seen from many more angles: the criticisms that seem cruel are often showing us a side that we’ve never seen and it can be useful”.
"“I was ill and couldn’t work for six months. It left me paralyzed in bed - he mused aloud - This painful experience allowed me to travel in my mind, to bury myself in the details, as opposed to when you go by car, and you see only superficially what is around you. I’m not praising old age, but it is a time that permits one to review the past and the things that one loved”. “He destroyed Bud Spencer - says Pedersoli happily, who made his 104th film with “Cantando dietro i paraventi” - he didn’t have me throw any punches; I was still and without any weapons. There was practically no script; I never saw a script. We just went ahead day by day. Olmi is a wonderful painter who paints with single shots every frame of the film”.
“I’m honored to have been a part of this film, and I hope to work with him again”, he adds referring to a project still to be finalized “Don Quixote”, a film together with Mario Girotti-Terence Hill, with Spencer in the role of Sancho Panches. Olmi confirms the anarchy: “I want to feel free of the pages of the script; I abhor everything that is predetermined. Every morning I would go to the set and it would be a discovery, just as it is for children and lovers.” Jun Ichigawa, who plays the widow Ching, in perfect Italian with a Roman pronunciation, explains: “It was a difficult role, first a woman in love who becomes a cruel pirate, and then a new woman, and she wears armor”. “It is a film about forgiveness and the absurdity of war - says the director - Why do we have to continue to fight? After a look at the past - the documentaries for young people he directed for ENEL, “Manon finestra 2” with narration by Pasolini, and “La pattuglia di passo San Giacomo” - a look into the future, at “Ticket” made with two others, Kiarostami and Loach, that should be out by Spring 2005.

Article from "La Repubblica" - 10 August 2004
The Festival - In Locarno he says to the director: “For him I kill Bud Spencer”
Pedersoli: "Dear Ermanno Olmi, lets make Don Quixote together"
"Terence Hill and I will perform in Cervantes’ classic if he directs us”

Ermanno Olmi with Carlo Pedersoli-Bud Spencer
LOCARNO - At first, it seemed natural to call them a “odd couple”: when Bud Spencer, A.K.A. Carlo Pedersoli, joined up with Ermanno Olmi for the project Cantanto dietro i paraventi. On the one hand, the most dedicated and independent director working in Italian cinema; on the other hand, the gentle giant and tough-guy from the popular series such as Trinity and Super-Cops, called on to play the part of a Portuguese Admiral who doesn’t throw a single punch for the whole film, but remains practically immobile on the screen, and narrates to the viewer the poetic story of the widow Ching. Now, however, it seems the roles have changed, and it is the actor who wants the director for a project Don Quixote that he’s been working on for a long time together with his old partner Mario Girotti - Terence Hill. As Olmi looks on slyly, in Locarno to receive the “Pardo” for his career’s work, Pedersoli describes his transformation. “I’m an intuitive actor, not studied. In the past they offered me prestigious parts in Per un gargantua or in Gulliver, but I felt out of my depths. Then Olmi destroyed Bud Spencer and it was like being born again. Now I’m ready to face the Cervantes challenge. Girotti and I, however, would like to make a fun version; so we thought about asking Cervantes, still locked up in jail, to fix up “Don Quixote” to make it more accessible.” On one thing the actor does not budge: the condition for making the film is the direction of Olmi. “Of course, for the project to go ahead, Ermanno must include the world of Don Quixote in his world, find the key to open it up. But I’ve decided to make it with him, and no one else”. Perhaps it is in the Olmian universe where realism and fable co-habit peacefully, that a wonderful film will be made about the sad fighter, undoing the jinx that hit the abortive attempts by Welles and Gilliam to adapt the masterpiece.
In the meanwhile, Olmi has completed filming for the Ticket, a film directed with two others, Abbas Kiaristami and Ken Loach, that will be released next year; perhaps in Berlin or Cannes. “the three stories are closely interdependent” says the director, “and the same characters move from one to the other; but I will no doubt edit my part more slowly than Loach or Kiarastami”. And the slowness has becomes for Olmi a way of life after the serious illness that he happily overcame. “We are always hurrying more and more; but by doing that, we only see superficially what passes before us, in a flash. By standing still, the images are fixed, new worlds open up. I can easily travel without ever moving”. Olmi’s ideas are suggestive; very concrete in one way, and in another way, flirting with the metaphysical. One can find a good synthesis in the book, published by Falsopiano on the occasion of the Locarno Film Festival, Il mestiere delle immagini. Diario (in pubblico) di un’amicizia: that of Olmi and Tullio Kezich, confidante, partner, collaborator, and expert critic of the director.