'Cinema is my life, but what can they still offer me?'. Powerful interview with a woman who has had everything and who now feels the weight of too many shortcomings. A caress from her John, for example. The only one capable of understanding it from one breathStefania Sandrelli, 76 years old: a life dedicated to cinema Photo Video
'I'm here, do you see me?' Stefania Sandrelli's light voice reaches me from the stairwell. I made a mistake, I look out: she is there, with her face turned upwards. She leads me into her large Roman apartment, a series of rooms in which she lives with her lifelong partner, the director Giovanni Soldati. The room, which overlooks the terrace and the magnolias in the garden, is full of paintings, woods, sculptures. 'I did not furnish this house, it furnished itself, with life' - Photo | video
Sandrelli has very pale skin, delicate and mobile hands, a veil of coral-colored gloss on her lips. He will bite them often as he weighs his thoughts. At the Venice Film Festival they are waiting for the presentation of Water and anise , the film by Corrado Ceron of which he is the protagonist and which he loved to shoot. She is happy to leave, she says, just a little tired. 'It's a complicated period, I don't sleep much at night.' Her partner was not well. She is recovering, but she needs treatment. Outside the window, a sticky black sky promises thunderstorms. Inside, next to the white sofa, a large table collects the prizes of a lifetime. Around us, only silence.
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How many statuettes. In this room there is a piece of cinema history. 'And kind. They also defined me as a 'monument', but not that, thank you ».
In «Acqua e Anice» she plays Olimpia. «A 70-year-old former ballroom star who rents a van to return to the places of her success, next to a girl who acts as a driver. It is a film that recalls the 1970s, with the orchestras who performed weddings, communions and the musicians almost became relatives '.
Does she look like her, Olimpia? 'In no way. She is cheeky, a little selfish, she has always looked for one night's adventures. I am almost shy and have only had great loves. But I enjoyed playing it very much ».
I don't know what to do but act, he said. “I don't even have a driver's license. I wanted the real one, not the one you buy, I also studied. I was about to take the exam, then they called me back to the set ... I don't even know how to drive. '
He began at the age of 15 in 'Italian divorce', alongside Marcello Mastroianni. He stuff to shake your wrists. «Pietro Germi would groom me on the set and I would answer him in kind:“ Either he explains me what I have to do or he screams at his sister ”».
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Courageous. “My mother used to say that when I was born I could hardly breathe. She said that the midwife prepared a teaspoon of water and sugar to get me back and that I held it and pushed it into my mouth by myself. I'm this way'.
Have you ever said no to a role? “I said more no than yes. I have always chosen, me ».
What convinces you to choose? “I never acted to show how good and beautiful I was. For me, making a film is giving another woman what I know about her. It is a mission ». You have made many important films, directed by great directors.
After 'Italian divorce' came the law on divorce, after 'Seduced and abandoned' the law on honor killing. I brought freedom to the stage ». Is freedom important to you? 'Very very much'.
In a letter, Trintignant wrote to her: 'You are like the sea: you renew yourself, you withdraw and then you are always reborn.' «Toujours à nouveau… Jean-Louismi loved him. I don't know where that writing ended up and I'm sorry: when I was sad I would reread it, he would cheer me up ».
Was the cinema of the past more beautiful? 'I'm not nostalgic and I don't want to be nostalgic.'
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In Venice he will receive the Bianchi award, a prestigious award assigned by film journalists. Like Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Virna Lisi. «It will give me great joy, like all the others. Besides, he will be one of the last ».
Why does he say so? 'I have made more than a hundred films, television, theater, I have directed an opera. Cinema is at risk, we know that. Spin Water and Anise I enjoyed it immensely, but what can they still offer me? My professional life is about to end ».
She is sorry? «But no, I have given so much, I have done so much. I'm serene, really. Other worries me. If I stop working, my standard of living will change ».
After such a career? 'Don't believe it, you know. I've always been paid little, like all actresses. I have always denounced it that they give us half of what men take. And then I've never made a movie for the money, not even The key , so they only gave me 50 million lire. Money has never interested me: it has come, it has gone. When I stop working, I have to accept changes. This house…'.
What is cinema for you? 'My life. My other family '.
Will you miss it? «My career has always supported me, even in difficult moments. Even now'.
Can I ask you why? «Giovanni was ill, an illness made it difficult for him to walk and forced him to stay in hospital for a long time. Seeing him so suffering made me very weak. But it's not just this'.
What else is there? 'When he got sick we were tired of each other for a long time. I was distracted by other people, he probably too. We felt obliged to live together. The last few years with him have been years of renunciation ».
What happens when a couple that has been together for 40 years goes into crisis? 'Last year Giovanni left home for a couple of months'.
And then? “Then he got sick, he needed help. I couldn't not be there. I could not'.
Isn't this love? 'I only know that I saw him leave the hospital and I was happy that he came back to me. Against everything and everyone, including my children, who told me that nothing would change ».
Was he happy to be back? 'It's not for sure. He doesn't give me this impression, even now. Maybe she is here because she only has me. And I have only him ».
What are you missing? “I don't feel important anymore. I don't feel loved. I have become something else ».
How do you react to not feeling loved as you would like? (silence) 'With disarmament'.
Stefania Sandrelli has eyes full of tears. 'Excuse me so much.' She proposes a glass of water. In the kitchen, she lingers thoughtfully in front of the cupboard for a long time. 'These. They have a nice turquoise color ». She opens the door to her room: the roller shutter it is lowered, in the dim light it points to the family photos stuck to the wall with scotch tape. There are the children, Amanda Sandrelli and Vito Pende, the beloved five grandchildren. “This is my mother's bed, the one I was born in. I sleep there alone ». In the studio there are many portraits, a set chair with his name, a photo of him with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. She shows them smiling, without vanity. 'Maybe I've done something good in my life too.' When she sits back on the sofa, she takes a deep breath. «John knows everything about these things. But I had never talked about it, with anyone. Maybe now it's right to do it, right for me. It is good for me ».
Years ago he said: 'Giovanni is the man I have always dreamed of.' “It is, it was. I have no confidence in him with anyone '.
What broke? “I don't know, I don't understand. Perhaps he is tired of being too demanding a woman, of being Sandrelli's man. But I can't help it, I can't live it as a fault ... And then, next to Sandrelli is Stefania. She has always been her '.
Can you imagine a life without him? «Leaving us is something that perhaps would do better to Giovanni than to me».
As we leave, Giovanni Soldati enters the room to say hello, helping himself with a stick. Sandrelli's voice becomes lively again: 'Does he see how beautiful he is? '. The director is smiling, he jokes. This beautiful, airy house, he explains, is all thanks to Stefania, del its good taste. «Yes, oh well, instead of compliments can you give me a caress, Giò?». He gives her an awkward pat on her cheek. Then she says, “I'm not good, I know. But I love this woman very much ».