For his documentary Notturno, Italian director Gianfranco Rosi did the unthinkable: spend most of his time in the field without a camera.
“I remember my producer saying, ‘Are you crazy? … If something big happens, you will miss it! He recalls at Deadline’s Contenders documentary awards season event, adding with a laugh, “I said, ‘My life is about constantly missing things as a filmmaker. “
But to portray life in the Middle East in a new way – its goal Notturno—Rosi found it essential to explore first, to meet people who live in a context of war along the borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon.
“I wanted [Notturno] to be a meeting film, ”he explains. “The people I met were completely accidental… I did months, months, months of research without a camera. And that for me was very important, to have myself completely free and not to have this urgency of the cinema.
Her patient approach allowed her to capture deeply moving individuals and indelible scenes: a grieving mother visiting the prison where her son was tortured, a Yazidi boy traumatized by ISIS atrocities, a psychiatric ward where occupants repeat a piece.
“When I film, I don’t ask myself [if] I shoot fiction or I shoot a documentary. I feel like I’m filming life and my duty is to find that deep truth that is present in every story, ”says Rosi. “My obsession and my dynamism and my challenge…[is] to find something so deeply intimate that becomes an archetype, that becomes something universal.