L'eleganza del cibo. Tales about food and fashion, which recently premiered at the 2019 Rome Film Festival, was inspired by an exhibition curated by Stefano Dominella that took place in Rome and then hit the road for a tour, which included a stop at the Chelsea Markets in New York City.
Consisting of five short stories, the focus of the film is on the relationship between food and fashion. Both the exhibit and film explore the presence and the importance of food in just about every aspect of life, whether the effect is positive or negative. Through clothing, accessories, photographs, videos, holograms, video mapping and visual-art, the creators have forged a path, which uncovers the extent to which fashion draws inspiration from nutrition.
I spoke with the director, Dario Carrarini, about this unique exhibit and the film it inspired. I was thrilled with his detailed and thoughtful responses to my questions.
How did this film come about?
The exhibition by Stefano Dominella is the link between food and fashion, and was the spark from which the project started. Together with screenwriter Paolo Belletti, we collaborated on the exhibition in his first installment in Rome about a year ago. We were all very impressed by the success of this unusual combination, which fused together two cornerstones of Italian excellence: fashion and food. Over the following months, after learning that the exhibition would be held at the Chelsea Market in New York, we began to develop the idea of making a documentary starting right from the theme of the exhibit. Thus came to life the screenplay. The imaginations of Matteo Alfonsi and Paolo Belletti took us on a real contemporary journey, which tells the story of two characters, one male and one female, that starting from opposite poles of the world like New York and Seoul, would deepen their knowledge on the topics of food and fashion, and get to the heart of the stylistic and gastronomic production.
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Tell me about the shoot, which took place at Chelsea Market.
We shot in New York with the protagonist Georgia Tal, who in the first scene of the film is set to review the event at Chelsea Market. There, she meets her editor, played by Alessandro Parrello, who entrusts the difficult task of writing about a mysterious party that will take place in Italy to celebrate the Made in Italy, referred to as the MDI party. Georgia accepts the challenge and travels to Italy, where she will begin her journey to choose the "perfect outfit". But there is more to it. This path will immediately turn into something more introspective and will become her cue to reflect on the current state of things- that of a girl who does not want to imagine herself dispersed in a sea of social networks but rather to bring to light the passion, the tradition, the search of places and especially of people who hide behind what makes us (Italy) famous worldwide. Our film aims to be an act of real reflection on our cultural heritage and a breaking point against the usual "glossy" image from the cover of a magazine.
How did this collaboration between you and Stefano Dominella, the curator of the exhibition, turn into a documentary film?
The idea of making a film came from Stefano Dominella. Then Paolo Belletti and I developed a plan to make a documentary feature film. We spoke with KimeraFilm that, fresh from the success of (Claudio) Caligari's "Non essere Cattivo", was quick to come onboard and believed in the project from the beginning. So we decided to begin production on the occasion of the exhibition in New York. I'm also very grateful to ICE (Italian Institute for Foreign Trade) and Dott. Ferdinando Fiore for giving us permission to shoot in New York. We are grateful for their contribution.
What is it about this topic that you find so unique?
I was very impressed with the exhibition in New York. There was a big audience and I found it fun to watch. I was amazed by the people who came to see it. In the exhibition, there are clothes and jewelry on display that are priceless, and designers such as Gattinoni, Chanel, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Armani and many young designers that reflect the future of Italian fashion. It has been said time and again that it is an exhibition on fashion inspired by the food "that makes you hungry". I think the hunger for culture is never satisfied and that simple things are often the most ingenious, as this project by Stefano Dominella.
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