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Franco Indovina - An Author, more than a Director

by Gregorio Napoli

Whilst one's soul bleeds, damaged by the memory of all those friends one has lost, even the funeral oration rite enhances the uselessness of all human gestures. Franco Indovina, one of the many victims of the Punta Raisi air crash, was without doubt one of the most interesting and 'personal' voices of our film industry. He left Palermo, many years ago, full of enthusiasm, carrying an exemplary cultural baggage and full of passion for 'his' art; a passion that had evolved during his time at the Michelangelo Antonioni school. This is no time to be giving any judgement on the outcome of such directing ability, which detached itself from the routine of our 'young' production with dignity, style and compassion towards its characters, with a touch of intellectualism that at the right moment knew how to bring a touch of intelligent 'gloss' to a certain contemporary style. Alongside the great director from Ferrara, he left his imprint in works such as L'Avventura and L'eclisse, during the early sixties. Antonioni himself convalidated his debut, agreeing to sign the 'preface' of a film done in three episodes: 'I tre volti' (1964), interpreted by the ex-princess Soraya, to whom Indovina was sentimentally attached. The episode 'Latin Lover', a subject of extensive debate amongst critics, was directed by Indovina and interpreted by Soraya and Sordi: a story about an American multimillionaires who, whilst holidaying in Rome, accepts the courtship of an Italian 'tough guy', regularly patented with a proper international agency. A weak story, but 'guided' with good taste and above all the careful style which identified Indovina. His second film, Menage all'Italiana was not a happy event. The young author though proved to be genuinely interested in 'live' society news, in those days full of events regarding a 'collector' of wives, and although very commercial, the venture served its purpose y asserting an uncommon ability in directing a demanding and guarded actor like Ugo Tognazzi. In the meantime, a personal spirituality was evolving with this director dedicated to pure entertainment. Sissignore (1968) was an obvious and positive indication of this change: directed by Ugo Tognazzi, the film revealed a noticeable quality of observation, with special care given to the consistent vices related to our culture. Indovina will reach a stylistic maturity with his next film 'Giochi Particolari' (1970), in which he portrays the spiritual crisis of a certain type of 'bourgeosie', impersonated by an aristocratic 'peeping Tom' who through the use of a camera descends into the abyss of skepticism and cynical amorality. 'Tre nel mille' (1971), brings this evolution to a feeling of completion by presenting a group of characters, humiliated by success, thrown into the crude reality of medieval customs in which symbolically, all the evil, shameful and disabuse suffered, and to be suffered by humble people is epitomized. From a commercial point of view it was not an extremely successful film, but from it transpired a person of considerable personality, who could have without doubt offered us stimulating psychological films. Who knows how many projects Franco had in mind; how many plans projected towards constant improvement, for the sake of 'his' art to which he had dedicated his entire being. Sadly his dreams were shattered against a rocky mountain.