The seventeenth edition of Creuza de mà – Music for cinema is taking place these days in Carloforte. We talked about it with the director Gianfranco Cabiddu, who is proud to have Mauro Pagani as guest of honor and to work with the guys from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia.
Although it has reached the 17th edition, Cross of Hand has become one of our obligatory appointments since 2019, when we had the pleasure of chatting with the director Gianfranco Abiddu sitting at the table in the bar where Fabrizio De Andre he had first written the single and then the album that lends its name to the festival, which since its inception has wanted to trigger a reflection around the themes of music for cinema. Creuza de Mà – Music for the cinema it has the great advantage of being a project, a detonator of synergies. The island, which in our case is the Island of San Pietro, by its nature favors meeting, dialogue and even debate, because the musicians who The drink invites them to Carloforte to meet each other and above all meet the students of the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, who thanks to the initiative CAMPUS music and sound for cinema and audiovisualcan put their “art” into practice by working on the soundtracks of short films made by other CSC students.
This year Creuza de Mà – Music for Cinema takes place doubly in the name of From Andrew: because of an exhibition dedicated to him and also because he is the guest of honor of the event Mauro Paganiwho collaborated with Faber both for Cross of Hand that for Cloudsand who today receives the ordinary citizenship of Carloforte, where he will give a concert in Piazza della Repubblica, which is the one in which four enormous magnolioid ficus trees stand out.
On a terrace overlooking the port, Gianfranco Abiddu talks about him, and his voice betrays emotion and just satisfaction: “This is a place with its own identity” – he explains – “and not a tourist place. I am convinced that the Island of San Pietro promotes creativity. This year the community of Carloforte will give honorary citizenship to Mauro Paganiwhich came here with Fabrizio De Andrejust in the era of Cross of Hand, looking for a place to write and narrate an album in the commercial Genoese language. Already this acknowledgment, which we give to a great musician during the festival, ‘speaks’ of a person who arrived here, had friends, and returned, returned and returned, so he has a piece of life stuck in the island, and also Creuza de Mà – Music for the cinema has many connections on the island, starting with the collaboration that we have had since the first year with the village band, which collects music from here and welcomes different generations, and in fact the youngest member is 11 years old and the oldest 81. This year, then, pivio e Aldo De Scalzi they rearranged the theme of Diabolik for the band, and the band will play in front of them: it will be an adventurous undertaking, because they are complicated pieces, but such operations explain the link between the festival and Carloforte”.
Were other important collaborations born in Carloforte?
In the CSC youth groups that we have brought to Carloforte every year, many couples have been born, not amorous but artistic. Some have found the ideal musician with whom they made the short film for the project CAMPUS and then also the diploma short and the first films, and this is an important thing, because it means that the atmosphere of this island is propitious for the birth of artistic partnerships that give good results. I came as a boy, I wrote about my dreams here, I also had some ideas, and it’s a place I like to go back to even in winter, because it’s full of history. Furthermore, the people who stay in Carloforte form a close-knit community.
Going back to Fabrizio De André, have you met him?
I was lucky enough to meet him once in Cagliari before one of his concerts, we even talked for a long time and he was very kind and nice. He had written a song called Disamistadewhile I had shot my debut film, also titled Disamistade and that he knew. I saw him again, some time later, at the concert in Rome at the Brancaccio. He even invited me to visit him, but I never had the courage and I regretted it all my life, but I made a documentary about him, about By Andre in Sardinia, because after our meeting I was intrigued to understand what this man saw every day from his home and what Sardinia gave him. He certainly didn’t consider it a buen retiro, because Carloforte, I repeat, is not a place where you have a house by the sea. No, here you have to lead the life they lead.
How has the relationship between cinema and music, or between cinema and sound changed in the last 10 or 20 years?
Paradoxically, technology has given sound a greater possibility of expressing itself within a film, because with the latest Atmos systems, or even with 5 + 1, the sound treatment consists in making the dialogues and the environment in which the story unfolds coexist with the music. It’s not like it used to be, when either the music won or the words won, and in the second case the music almost became a background. Now it can be integrated into the story, and I think this helps the viewer’s immersion in the film. The musician, today, tries to give the film that something extra that cannot be expressed with words, his is a job on an emotional level and this is why it is very important to build, right from the screenplay writing phase, a relationship with the musician, who must have clear ideas about the sound of the film, because sound is the vehicle of so many emotions. A scene, if it is accompanied in a certain way, suggests a mood that is inexplicable in words, and therefore the relationship between a director and a musician is a fundamental junction for the success of an excellent film product.
Can we say, Gianfranco, that you are a bridge made of flesh and blood between cinema and music and that, like Mauro Pagani at a certain point in his career, you were fascinated by oriental or Arabic music?
Yes we can say that. I initially worked as an ethnomusicologist, so for me the relationship with images was almost a relationship with moving images, because an ethnomusicologist sees the gesture that accompanies the music. I’ve studied a lot of oriental cultures, Balinese and Indian, for example, where everything is mixed, so dance, song, music, gesture, word are together a bit like in our opera. I believe that these suggestions have given me an imprinting that has stuck with me and that always leads me to have an overall vision.
Did you too, like Mauro Pagani, fall in love with British progressive rock?
Yes, and I liked it so much that it ruined my career as a classical musician, because I was studying classical music, and then flute, etc. Then came the Jethro Tull with rock and started playing in rock bands, and when they found out at the conservatory, they almost kicked me out, so my classical career quickly got sidetracked. After rock came jazz. Now, on the other hand, I find the work done by Nordic musicians very interesting, drawing inspiration from the noises in the film, therefore from direct recording.
Who are your favorite soundtrack authors?
Everyone has their own universe, so in the end I like all music a bit if it’s good. I am very fond of Franco Piersanti, I could never do without him, but not because he is good, and he certainly is good, but because he has a sensitivity that is similar to me, so if I have to work with images, I call him, and I know that he will also make me suffer in some ways, but he has that flicker that always amazes me and helps me, so it is obvious that I address almost exclusively to him. But there are some things they do pivio, Aldo De Scalzi e Michele Braga which I love very much.
Do you think film music is better than pop music nowadays?
Music for the cinema is a little more elaborate, and then it has to take into account the language of cinema because it is conveyed by another medium, so you have to somehow negotiate with the director. That of soundtrack authors is music applied to another art, maybe you feel that it works on its own, but then you see it ballad by a character and then you understand that those sounds have a function, and that the interaction with a body that dances to it gives the notes another depth. There are many crossings, and this too is beautiful, for example now in many films there are songs, which are a crazy vehicle. The theme of this festival is a bit the relationship between song and soundtrack, because sometimes in the soundtracks there are songs that carry their own history, and therefore they are like time machines. For example, if you put a song by Gino Paoli in a film, you are giving an emotion that is shared and understood by the audience. You are also giving the signal of an era, and especially if the songs are Italian, the words are also part of the story and of the film, so it’s always difficult to use songs in cinema, but lately there are many singers who compose soundtracks for cinema, for example colander e Dimartino.
I guess for you there is no comparison between the music of the 60s and 70s and today’s pop songs…
That’s right. The incredible thing is that in those years one was better than the other: i Pink Floydi Led Zeppelin, i Genesis: it was an extraordinary thing and still today certain groups excite me. I have recently seen the Rolling Stones: they are old men but they are alive, and when a musician is alive he is alive, even old jazz players always have that scratch which is not a museum but is life. Maybe our mistake is that we make songs that don’t take into account our tradition, so we’re a little more international but much less rooted.