Friday, 10 March 2023 12:36

Paolo Villaggio, immortal comic icon: the documentary film “La voce di Fantozzi” captivates everyone on the third stage of Italia Experience in Šibenik

The project is co-financed by the Italian Ministry of Culture - Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual

Actor, comedian, writer and screenwriter, Paolo Villaggio was the author of a completely original kind of humor, never opting for impressions and always using a cutting and sharp language that left no room for retort. It was to him that the opening night of Italia Experience in Šibenik (Croatia), the Giffoni project co-financed by the Italian Ministry of Culture - Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual, was dedicated.

Accountant Ugo Fantozzi won the hearts of all Italians: the character invented and played by Paolo Villaggio -one of Italy's most famous comic masks, inspired by his memories as an office employee in Genoa- debuted in 1975 in Luciano Salce's film by the same name, the first chapter in a series that perfectly reflected Italian society. The story of this character could be presented to Croatian audiences thanks to Mario Sesti's LA VOCE DI FANTOZZI, which was introduced in Šibenik by producers Daniele Liburdi and Massimo Mescia (Volume Entertainment). The documentary film revolves around a proper icon who influenced the imagination, culture and language of an entire country like no other, joining immortal artists such as Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Totò. The film features Paolo Villaggio, in his last and moving performance, along with exceptional Italian personalities such as Nobel laureate Dario Fo and Oscar winner Roberto Benigni.

The hapless, clumsy and goofy employee, terrorized by his superiors, has always captivated the audience by showing the desire for redemption of the average Italian guy who was a product of the so-called economic miracle. “Once again, Fantozzi proves to be an immortal comic mask”, commented Giffoni general manager Jacopo Gubitosi.

This work was entirely made together with Paolo Villaggio”, producers Mescia and Liburdi explained. “Not only was Villaggio the subject of this documentary film, but he also worked with us on its conception and realization. For example, he wrote the dialogues for the cameos; this is his last work. All of us, during the making of the film, was enthusiastic and felt that we were working on portraying a genius who would remain in our hearts forever”.

Even before becoming a popular icon of Italian cinema, Fantozzi was a literary character who originated from the collaboration between Paolo Villaggio and the publishing house Rizzoli, which published his first adventures in the early 1970s. “Villaggio also innovated the language, coining neologisms”, the producers continued. “He completely revolutionized all the fields he stepped into: cinema, comedy, literature, sociology. A phenomenon that swept over everything”.

In the meantime, film screenings at the Arsen Art House in Šibenik are going on. The titles on the schedule address many topics of utmost relevance to young people. Among the films already screened are Brando Quilici's “Il ragazzo e la tigre”, a story of friendship and solidarity between a boy and a tiger cub, and Roberto Andò's “Il bambino nascosto”,  which is set in Forcella (Naples) and features a masterful performance by Silvio Orlando.

This new stage of Italia Experience will also feature the making of a short film. Around twenty giffoners, recruited from Šibenik's secondary schools and coordinated by the Giffoni production department, are working on a short film that is being shot simultaneously with the other events of the project. It will be focused on the relationship between local young people and the city of Šibenik. The outstanding natural and architectural features of this beautiful place will be intertwined with the human stories of the boys and girls who live and enliven it, in what will be an exciting and powerful story.