RIYADH: An Italian screenwriter has described Saudi Arabia as having “incredible culture and traditions” after delighting moviegoers with his first-ever screening in the Kingdom.
But Giacomo Mazzariol, 25, said he was worried about how people might react to his movie, ‘My Brother Hunts Dinosaurs’.
“Sitting and watching your film from another country, your mind is full of fears and doubts,” he told Arab News.
“’Will my film be well received? Does everything make sense? I then relaxed because I realized that the people who had seen the film were really satisfied and had a warm reaction. They felt it was an honest film, full of true emotions.
Directed by his compatriot Stefano Cipani, the film was screened on June 17 as part of the first European Film Festival, which saw 14 European films screened at the Esplanade VOX cinema in Riyadh.
Mazzariol said audiences were intrigued by the film and asked him many questions after the screening.
“People laughed a lot because the film is full of lightness and humor, but also they took it seriously and they were overwhelmed by the dramatic and touching parts.
“The story is about the emotional maturity of my character (Gio), which ranges from misunderstanding Gio’s inner world to fully accepting and understanding his diversity. The journey is through rage and shame, surprise and courage, brotherhood and loneliness, and it starts from the birth of Gio until he grows up and becomes a teenager.
While in Saudi Arabia, Mazzariol and an EU delegation were also due to hold a workshop for local talent in conjunction with Alkhobar-based Arabia Pictures Group, but the event had to be postponed.
“The Kingdom has an incredible culture and traditions that should be communicated more to people around the world, not only through tourism, but also through the sharing of local stories, through art based on life and the perspectives of ‘today,’ he said.
“Arabia Pictures offered me to hold it (the workshop) during this edition of the festival, but we didn’t succeed this time. That’s why I’m supposed to come back to the Kingdom, at the next edition of the festival.
Mazzariol said that upon his return he hopes to be able to mentor young Saudis interested in filmmaking and screenwriting.
“I think the second edition will take place in late winter or early spring. The main theme will be the relationship between books and movies based on my experience creating the movie script based on my novel.
He said he hoped to teach Saudi students how to analyze and compare the two arts of writing and filmmaking.
“This can be achieved by watching scenes from films based on books and comparing them with the scenes from a book – Kafka’s works adapted, Dostoyevsky’s works adapted, etc. – and also obtaining the knowledge to distinguish the uniqueness of these two art forms.
“Some books are almost impossible to photograph, like ‘Ulysses’ by (James) Joyce, or the work of Proust. Not just for the number of pages, but because they reach a very literature-specific literary peak,” he said.
Mazzariol said he always had a passion for writing and enjoyed literature classes in school.
“When I was in high school, with all the imagination and ideas a teenager can have, I started writing for myself and tried to get a few articles published.”
His screenwriting career began when he released a short film with his brother Gio on YouTube.
“My brother (Gio) with Down syndrome was in the movie. It went viral and the person who would become my future editor contacted me to do a book about the video and my story.
Speaking about the two days he spent in the Kingdom during the film festival, Mazzariol said: “What impressed me the most were the modern buildings, the skyscrapers, the entertainment areas, because it looks futuristic.
“It was my first time visiting Saudi Arabia. I love traveling and discovering new countries and thanks to the festival organizers and the Italian Embassy, I was able to get in touch with Saudis who know Saudi Arabia well.
“In the markets of the old town, I felt like I was at the doorstep of another world, because there were incredible products from all over the Middle East and Asia.”
The writer said he spent time studying at the King Fahd National Library before exploring some of the natural desert landscapes the Kingdom has to offer.
“I loved the warm winds, the sand as far as the eye could see. It was very inspiring because I have always read books based on this scenario, for example “Arabian Nights”, but I never experienced it.
“The hospitality of the European Film Festival was of a very high standard and well done, I thank them very much. I hope that the festival will also be very successful in the next editions. I know for sure that it will be more and more bigger.