A film about Ferlinghetti’s life. Fresu: “A great visionary”


Ferlinghetti in front of his library in San Francisco

There are many glimpses and references to Italy in the film dedicated to the extraordinary existence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. We pass from the Roman festivals to the land of his father, the province of Brescia, without forgetting that the authors of the production are the Friulian director Ferdinando Vicentini Orgnani and the composer Paolo Fresu. The Sardinian trumpeter himself interpreted live the soundtrack of the film “The Best Bomb” in the Controtempo concert at the Zancanaro theater in Sacile. The film was born from the repeated meetings between the director and Ferlinghetti during which Vicentini Orgnani also recovered various unpublished material from the life of the Beat Generation poet, enriching it with the contributions of the people who had collaborated in the various events. Ample space is then reserved for Roman performances, in particular that at the Tor Bella Monaca theater in May 2008. As for the musical aspect, the titles of the 13 original songs, which gave life to a disc, are taken from the poem “Autobiography” and other texts that make up the entire work of Ferlinghetti and were engraved shortly before his death, which occurred at the age of 101 on February 22, 2021 as a consequence of the covid. Paul

Fresu, how did you approach Ferlinghetti’s work?

«I have known the director Ferdinando Vicentini Orgnani for about twenty years, when we made together, in 2002, the documentary“ Ilaria Alpi. The cruelest of days ”dedicated to the journalist killed in Mogadishu and then we continued to talk and work together. For about ten years he had started this research work by meeting the writer and recording various material in various cities. At the end of this journey, I remember that we had been talking about it for at least seven years, he asked me to make the music ».

How were the compositions conceived?

“These are pieces made by me and by the musicians who are part of my two groups, the trio with Dino Rubino on the piano and Marco Bardoscia on the double bass and the duo with Daniele di Bonaventura on the bandoneon, which were composed mainly during the months of pandemic. I was inspired by Ferdinando’s film, by his stories and also by the suggestions I felt years ago when I went to San Francisco. I remember that I also passed right in front of the famous “City Lights” bookshop ».

What idea are you made of Ferlinghetti?
“He was a great poet and visionary, a profound observer of the reality of the last century. He is a really decisive figure, even if I think he is still little known to the general public. The film describes him very well and his decisive role in the Beat Generation emerges in detail, even as an editor, alongside leading figures such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Jack Kerouac ».

Is the film only about San Francisco?

«San Francisco in the Sixties was certainly a city characterized by a tangle of encounters and various cultural dynamics, non-conformism and sexual diversity. But the film also talks a lot about Italy as Ferlinghetti came from a family originally from the province of Brescia. And then he had repeated contacts with the Italians and cared a lot about our country. He was really very attached to Italy ».

And what do you remember about the film about Ilaria Alpi?

«It was my first experience in cinema, a very uncomfortable job of denunciation for those years and certainly very hard. A film that recounts various misdeeds in Italy of those years. A particular job that also served to start the relationship between me and Vicentini Orgnani. A dialogue which, as this production on Ferlinghetti demonstrates, has never stopped ».

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A film about Ferlinghetti’s life. Fresu: “A great visionary”