Director Ferzan Ozpetek
Starring Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi
Turkish director’s sweet comedy about closeted gays
Film-maker Ferzan Ozpetek regularly explores the plight of closeted gays in traditional cultures with inspiring humanity and biting wit. But don’t just take our word for it. In an interview Madonna gave for Italian TV last year, she called the Turkish-born director “quite simply a genius”. “I was very happy and also proud that she said that,” reveals Ozpetek, “but I feigned indifference and didn’t let on how satisfied I was.”
No doubt her Madgesty will find herself equally smitten by Ozpetek’s latest film, Loose Cannons, a sweet, engaging coming-out comedy set among an eccentric clan of southern Italian pasta-makers. When the partriach announces at dinner one night that he wants to hand over the torch to one of his sons, he gets a shock when the macho elder brother comes out – beating his also gay, sensitive younger brother, who wants nothing to do with vermicelli or angel hair, to the punch.
The inspiration for Loose Cannons came when Ozpetek was dining out with an American friend in New York, who told him a similar story about his brother upsetting the apple cart by coming out first to their deeply conservative Jewish parents. It’s a universal story which could translate anywhere from Texas to Tonbridge, and it’s also one of the director’s funniest films. Ozpetek is very much part of the mainstream in Italy, where his films are nearly always hits, but he still faces pressure to tailor his work for more Catholic tastes.
When his sixth film, Saturno Contro, came out in Italy, the distributor scolded Ozpetek for refusing to cut a gay kiss, arguing they could have made millions more at the box office if he had. “I said: ‘I don’t want two million more euros,’” Ozpetek fumes. “Even better is that those people should stay home...”
At a retrospective of his work in LA, Ozpetek cringed in his seat when the Turkish consul opened his speech by saying: “Ozpetek’s films are very far away from me…”, only to be touched when the diplomat added: “But by the end of the movie I realise how close to me it had got, and when I left the theatre I felt completely changed. It widened the scope of my outlook towards the world.” “It was beautiful,” says Ozpetek, “I felt a lot of gratification…”