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Interview – Alessandro Grande – ‘Bismillah’ – A Short Film


Posted November 9, 2018 by

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Interview – Alessandro Grande – ‘Bismillah’ – A Short Film

Alessandro Grande’s award-winning Italian film Bismillah tackles an important issue that illegal families can face, but is a film about love and hope. This topical film was selected by the Oscar-qualifying film festivals: the Busan International Short Film Festival, Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival and Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, as well as over fifty prestigious film festivals around the world. The film stars Francesco Colella (Trust) and introduces Basma Bouhali, Belhassen Bouhali and Linda Mresy.

A Tunisian girl lives illegally with her teenage brother and father in Italy. One night she finds herself alone facing a huge problem, one that might be too big for her to handle.

Italian director and screenwriter Alessandro Grande holds social issues close to his heart. After graduating, his debut film In My Prison, received over 100 festival selections and won over 40 awards around the world, including the Amnesty International Award and the Fandango award.  His second film Margerita starred Moni Ovadia, Francesca Valtorta (Squadra Antimafia – Palermo Oggi) and a group of non-professional Roma gypsies. The film tackled integration and won over 80 awards, as well as being broadcast on the Studio Universal channel.

Bismillah was produced by Indaco Film and is distributed by Zen Movie Distribution. This important film was co-produced by Alessandro Grande and Luca Marino, the stunning music was created by Gianluca Sibaldi and the beautiful cinematography was created by Francesco di Pierro. The film was made with the support of the Calabria Film Commission and with the Rai Cinema Channel.

The film recently won the Amnesty International Award for Best Short Film at Giffoni Film Festival, who recognized the film’s important message of illegal immigrants having access to health care, which should be a basic human right.

Alessandro Grande - 'Bismillah'


To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘Bismillah’…

Bismillah (In the name of Merciful God) is a film focusing on universal feelings such as love and brotherhood in an issue linked to immigration. Samira is in fact a 10-year-old girl who lives illegally in Italy with her father and her brother, who is 17 years old. One night, alone, she will find herself making a decision that can compromise the lives of all the three.

Where did the idea come from? How did you get involved with the film?

It all started from a newspaper article, thanks to the press I discovered that Italy had the highest number of immigrants in its history in 2011, about 23 thousand. Of these, 11 thousand lived as illegal immigrants and were considered “ghosts”. The moment these people managed to escape from the hell of their country, when they got over the hell of the journey and touched the ground again, were their problems over? So I wrote the story of Bismillah starting from these questions and looking for more information, contacting volunteers and those who have lived with this drama.

Tell us about the cast, who is starring in Bismillah?

The actress is a talented 10-year-old girl, who thanks to this film began a career as a professional actress and in the fall we will see her debut in a two-part movie for the first Italian network alongside Sergio Castellitto. The doctor is Francesco Colella, who achieved popularity after the film “Piuma” presented at the Venice International Film Festival and currently, after the first season of Trust, started another television series based on a book by Roberto Saviano entitled “Zero zero zero”. The other actors in the film are all in their first experience. I’ve always loved mixing professional actors with street people in every movie of mine.

What are your influences as a director?

I have always loved the cinema of neorealism and authors like Vittorio De Sica and Pasolini. Almost unconsciously, I realize that I write and direct works where I respect the characteristics of this genre that has made my country great and known all over the world. Of contemporary cinema, I greatly admire Farhadi, Mungiu and the Dardenne brothers.

What advice would you give any young directors, looking to crack the industry?

The advice that I can give after working ten years in this world is to try as much as possible to be free and give into your creativity. The real difficulty is to fight the homologation of the system and be unique without ever forgetting our cultural and personal past.

When and where will we see ‘Bismillah’?

After the last screenings at Enconunters (United Kingdom) and at the Kazan International Film Festival (Russia), where we also got the Best Film award, Bismillah’s path continues through international festivals. The next screening will be in three other countries, Poland, Indonesia and Iran.

What is the next step for you, do you have any other films or projects in production?

In this moment, besides following the promotion of “Bismillah”, I am working on my first feature film that I will shoot in 2019.


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