Director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino on His New Netflix Film “Beckett” | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 17th, 2022  

Director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino on His New Netflix Film “Beckett”

Challenging the Genre

Aug 13, 2021 Photography by Netflix Web Exclusive
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Italian film director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino makes his American cinema debut with Beckett, a Netflix Original thriller about “an American in a foreign land.” The film recently opened the 74th Locarno Film Festival and makes its international debut on Netflix today. Filomarino’s 2010 short film Diarchy, produced by Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino, received awards at the Locarno and Sundance Film Festivals, among others. He followed this artistic triumph by directing the documentary Deceit, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival in 2013.  Titular lead Beckett (John David Washington) runs across Greece, fleeing a group of authorities who are hunting him down for his life. Elements of romance and questions of political power are rolled up into a 90-minute manhunt. The film also stars Alicia Vikander, Vicky Krieps, and Boyd Holbrook. Filomarino first had the idea of putting high stakes on the shoulders of a single person, and from here he and screenwriter Kevin A. Rice were left to form Beckett’s character. Like any good storyteller, he didn’t want to do the obvious thing. “His character has all the tools at his disposal to resolve those stakes,”  Filomarino says. “So instead, I liked the idea of going the opposite direction, where he is completely unfit to resolve those stakes. In fact, he’s going through a personal crisis of sorts, a premise that can apply to a lot of great genres. I liked the idea of having a dramatic character who isn’t exactly cut from that cloth.” While the initial concept came from Filomarino, he wanted a native English speaker to help transform his premise into an American feature film, which led him to Rice. “The idea was always in my head to have an American in a foreign land, because that’s the archetype with this type of film,” Filomarino says. “Being a European filmmaker, I liked the idea of collaborating with an American writer with a different background…. My vision was to destroy the genre, or at least challenge the genre.”  The director wanted the character’s exploration of personally uncharted territory to deliver an urgent quality that touches the viewer, a technique inspired by one of his favorite film directors, Costa-Gavras. Filomarino feels he fell into the best case scenario, which he said was to, “work with amazing performers that ranged from America to Europe but acted in English.”
The visually stimulating elements of the film were carefully crafted. Filomarino accumulated abundant literary, visual, and auditory research. “I like to be inspired by things that are not movies, so I looked at a lot of photography for this film because that tone is so grounded,” says Filomarino. “I looked at a lot of street photography, actually a lot in the American tradition of Stephen Shore and William Eggleston and those kinds of photographers. That informed a lot of that state of tone. That said, once in Greece, to me the best thing was to be influenced by what I was seeing…. Changing the story a little bit to fit the location. At the end of the day, that had results in terms of how we’d composed everything visually.”  With the COVID-19 crisis continuing, Beckett begs the question of what it’s like to make a movie with a full cast and crew during a pandemic. According to Filomarino, the film was shot and cut in 2019, and they completed most of the post production before COVID pervaded the workplace. “I have to say, we were very lucky, because it slowed things down, but we were able to do absolutely everything we needed to do; we needed more time, that was all,” he says. The original working title for Beckett was Born to Be Murdered, a line from the 1950 novel The Third Man that meandered through Filomarino’s mind before the story of Beckett ever did. “[It] evoked the tone that I was looking for in making the film, so I felt quite affectionate towards it,” says Filomarino. “It was a very constant reminder of what the tone would be and what the character would live through… Beckett just came up as a more obvious title because of how the main character is upfront in this experience. It’s very much experienced through him.” Support Under the Radar on Patreon.


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