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Interview with Barbara Sirotti, actress, screenwriter

Cannes 7th Art Awards, April 19, 2024

CR: Your film Libera is shot in an experimental style, as it was submitted to the festival, but it has a narrative form, a plot, an adherence to the cinematic status quo. What is its experimental character?

In LIbera the experimental challenge was to work on a no cause-effect process and constantly change perception of time and actions in a victim's mind after violence. The story plays out as different timelines blend and overlap like the memories, nightmares and desires floating together in a woman's mind, exactly how it is after an abuse. Therefore I tried to build a nonlinear narrative plot, a sort of round labyrinth where the protagonist is always looking for a way out and voice-over is the only Ariadne's thread.  


CR: You are the author of the idea and starring in the lead role. What motivated you to realize this film?

The motivation was and still is extremely strong, as it comes from a personal experience of attempted murder and psychological abuse suffered by the closest person to me: my ex lover. We all say "I'm against any type of violence" (especially on 25th November of every year...curious thing!) but we're rarely willing to understand a roped victim's consciousness. So the objective is to share also a cross-section of society that, unfortunately, includes endless reports of violence (more than 40 femicides in 2023, 11 in 2024 in addition to a significant increase in domestic abuse).

CR: Is this your first film as a screenwriter? Please tell us about your film career.

Libera is my second film as a screenwriter after "Aria", a short film that won more than 60 prizes and official selections all over the world and has been shown at Rome film Fest in 2022. My career as an actress started in the theater, with Marco Paolini, Gabriele Vacis, Ernesto Calindri, Liliana Feldmann, Quelli Di Grock and the "Piccolo Teatro" In Milan. Than I went to Los Angeles and New York for showcases with Ari Taub, Carol Hanzel, Mary Haggerty, Julie Torres, and I recently played in last Francesco Barilli's film (Cannes '66 with "L'Urlo")


CR: What projects in which you took/are taking part are you proud of?

The project I'm extremely proud to be in is Libera. I never thought to be the author and protagonist of a short, awarded and showcased at the Palais Du Cinema in Cannes. To be extremely honest I would have never imagined that even my painful true story could bring me to all this! I'm here for you to simply say that there's a way out to recover after violence: don't be afraid to start over again and be strong to welcome soul ashes, because good things come from them.  


CR: What is he modern audience like?

Considering what's happening to Cinema and Digital Platforms, I think the modern audience is often distracted by tons of information, constantly looking for something new and exciting but with discontinuous interest. Internet social network languages are lowering general level of attention, becoming a source of shallow and fragmented stories that can't always support Movies Promotion. As far as Independent Film is concerned, being daring, innovative and experimental should be a significant goal to achieve.


CR: Through your work, what personal qualities have you improved?

Being...."welcoming". I mean, when you create something and dare yourself into a new project, you don't know exactly what you will be discovering. And that's the diamond that you can or can't find in your work, but the challenge is always worthwhile to become something or someone new.  


CR: Was there a desire to try directing something in cinema?

Well, my desire is to learn and learn and learn from the Greatest and from Life! And become who I am. 


CR: What are your professional plans for the future?

My professional dream is to bring my short Libera to the audience, finding the right Distribution and (why not?) showing it in a tailored-made project even to teenagers, to raise social awareness about prevention of violence, increase the potential for self-protection and be a testimony to reborn after a trauma with a new perspective. Is it too much? Maybe,  but the impact of Cinema is powerful on new generations. Yes, Cinema can do anything. 


Barbara Sirotti is an actress and screenwriter. Recently she starred in Francesco Barilli's latest film 'Il Paese del Melodramma' with Luc Merenda and was chosen by Roberta Torre for "Extravergine" and by Maccio Capatonda for 'The Generi'. In 2021, she wrote and starred in the short film 'Aria' (directed by Brace Beltempo and with music by Enrico Merlin), winning more than 30 awards all over the world. She won two prizes of the Cannes 7th Art Award: "Best Experimental" and "Audience Prize" for her second film "LIBERA".


Credit photo by Max Orazi

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