Susanna Nicchiarelli on directing Margherita Mazzuco in “Chiara”
With “Chiara”, Susanna Nicchiarelli’s portrait of Saint Clare of Assisi – the 13th-century saint into a wealthy family who became a nun at the age of 18 after hearing the sermon of St. Francis – the Italian director completes her Trilogy of female biopics created by Nico, 1988 and Miss Marx, both launched from Venice’s Horizons section. With “Chiara” she makes the leap into the main competition in Venice.
Nicchiarelli agreed diversity about what prompted her to play the prototypical feminist and director of My Brilliant Friend star Margherita Mazzucco in the title role of the picture. excerpts.
What prompted you to tell us this story about St. Clare?
First of all, I’ve always had a passion for Saint Francis. I have a very strong memory of seeing Franco Zeffirelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon for the first time. I was at school when they showed us, and this boy, this man, undressing in front of the bishop. That was a very powerful image. Francis’ struggle speaks to us today as well, because it is a struggle for poverty, against social injustice. It’s about the side of the poor, the different and the injustices of a society in which very few have everything and most have nothing. So that was her fight. Medieval society was like that. It’s not much different than now.
Of course, Clare was Francis’ supporter
Yes. The interesting thing about the revolution of Francis and also of the revolution of Clare is the desire to build a community, a community of equals. What happens is that Clare is a girl who runs away from home at 18 to join Francis and she just wants to be like him. I mean she wants to do what he’s doing and build a community of women who are Franciscans. But this is not possible for many reasons. So she’s fighting the Church herself all the time. She’s fighting the popes and cardinals just to be able to do what Francis did as a woman. The problem is that in the Middle Ages women were forced to live a monastic life. Those who chose religious life had to lock themselves in a monastery and disappear. And she didn’t want that.
She wanted out into the world. She wanted to travel and wasn’t allowed to. She wanted to go to the Holy Land. She wanted to do all the things that Francis did and she couldn’t because she was a woman. So somehow her story becomes a feminist story and her fight becomes a feminist fight.
Let’s talk about the casting of Margherita because I think she really carries the film. I mean, it’s an ensemble film, but I think their charisma on screen is a huge asset.
First off, Clare was 18 when she ran away. So it was very important to me that Clare was played by an 18-year-old girl. I mean, I wanted her to be young because the youth of these two characters, both Clare and Francis, is important. I mean they were kids, they were young and a lot of people of all ages followed them. When I met Margherita, I fell in love with her because she was a kid, because she is a kid. She has the same weaknesses as a child. It is very small and at the same time has a very strong charisma. She is very centered. She knows her place in the world and is very calm. So she was Clare to me in many ways.
Talk to me about the strong musical aspect of the film with choirs and dance sequences in fields.
As I wrote I knew I had to make her dance. I knew I had to go in the musical direction because the films that came to mind as I was writing were Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. The Franciscans were very happy and always celebrated life and sang. The first manuscripts that we have with hymns are Franciscan. So of course it had to be part of her story. Young people come together and away from society and choose poverty, choose a simple life and celebrate, because that’s the whole point. They were like flower children.
https://variety.com/2022/film/global/susanna-nicchiarelli-my-brilliant-friend-margherita-mazzuco-saint-clare-chiara-1235367508/ Susanna Nicchiarelli on directing Margherita Mazzuco in “Chiara”