Rocco Papaleo

ROCCO PAPALEO

ACTOR AND DIRECTOR

rocco papaleo

"When I was 18, I left Basilicata and moved to Rome. Since then I was fascinated by the Lucanian rural world, and this is reflected in my desire to keep my artistic gaze faced towards this territory and describe it. In "Basilicata Coast to Coast" I narrated an essence, a colour, a sound, and an indulgence that unites Lucanian people, but also the relationship I keep with the Basilicata region which remained vivid despite the fact that I live in a big city."

 

What is the relationship between your artistic research and the rural world of your Lucanian childhood?

When I was 18, I left Basilicata and moved to Rome. Since then I was fascinated by the Lucanian rural world, and this is reflected in my desire to keep my artistic gaze faced towards this territory and describe it. In "Basilicata Coast To Coast”, I narrated an essence, a colour, a sound, and an indulgence that unites Lucanian people, but also the relationship I keep with the Basilicata region which remained vivid despite the fact that I live in a big city.

The strongest memory I have of the countryside goes back to my childhood, when I used to go with my family to Grumento Nova, a small village in the province of Potenza. My uncle had a country house there and the land was cultivated by a farmer nicknamed "pare che chiove" which means, "seems that it rains" in dialect. This was because whenever anyone asked for a weather forecast he always answered: "it seems it is going to rain." Thinking about it now, perhaps that was not properly a forecast but the hope of a farmer who lived in a place where summer bought drought. I thought he was very wise and I was amazed by the equipment in his house, which seemed to be like works of Arte Povera -- the watering can was made from a pierced tomato can, for example.

 

Can your movies be considered as a praise of the South Italy rural landscape?

I built my movie based on the idea of walking through Basilicata. It expresses the reminiscence of the Lucanian territory and the attempt to gain back the relationship with the land which the city threatens. I went back to the same theme when I directed my second movie "Una piccola impresa meridionale," which was set in a place miles from anywhere. I am interested in talking about the earth because it is a way to return to the simplicity of my origins, that I believe that I have never completely abandoned. As our electronic devices need to be charged by inserting a plug in a socket, I need to charge myself up by staying in close contact with the earth.

Digging through your memories, what dish evokes your Lucanian childhood?

A strong symbol of my childhood is the saffron from Senise, which was typical of the Lucanian region and, since I left Basilicata, I could not find anywhere else. Our cuisine is hybrid, nourished by the culture of the neighbouring areas, for example, I come from a village that bordered with Calabria and my mother’s cooking offered typical dishes of the rest of South Italy. However, the saffron from Senise is an ingredient that is not found elsewhere and it was essential in my favourite dish when I was a child – fried rice and beans. It is the most distant memory I have of a food taste. It is prepared using a mixture of saffron from Senise and pecorino cheese, you add rice and beans and fry it.

Biography

Rocco Papaleo was born in Lauria, in the province of Potenza and lives in Rome. He is a theatre and film comedy actor, showman, screenwriter, musician and director. He became known as an actor in 1995, with the release of the film "I laureati" directed by Leonardo Pieraccioni. He was also one of the heroes of the television series "Classe di ferro," for which he also wrote the screenplay for some episodes. In 2010, he directed his first film "Basilicata: Coast to Coast." He was also the lead actor, and the year after, won the David di Donatello award in the Best Debut Director category. In 2013, he released his second film "Una piccola impresa meridionale" and at the same time the same-title novel (written with Valter Lupo). In January 2014, he appeared as a hero, alongside Paola Cortellesi and Luca Argentero, in the film "Un boss in salotto" which was directed by Luca Miniero.