Writer-director Daniele Vicari’s latest feature film, Diaz: Don’t Clean Up This Blood, is a story of violations against humanity. During the G8 summit in 2001 police raided a school in Genoa, Italy, the Diaz School, and beat protestors there for over an hour. Vicari’s movie attempts to portray the horrors felt on that day…
FTN: What was your inspiration to make this film?
DV: I wanted to confront head-on the horror that is unleashed when the fundamental principles of democracy are renounced. My precise starting point was the sense of injustice that the first ruling provoked in me. The verdict said: it’s tru that these poliece have devastated the lives of hundreds of people, but they are not guilty.
FTN: Were you directly affected by the incidents portrayed in “Diaz: Don’t Clean Up This Blood”?
DV: No, during the events in Genoa I was shooting my first film.
FTN: There are a number of sequences that appear to be from actual amateur and news footage from the G8 Summit and also the attack on Diaz itself. Did you have any difficulty in obtaining this footage?
DV: We didn’t have any difficulties. There are thousands of hours of footage, I myself watched about 700 hours of material from various sources: police, activists, televisions. In the wonderful world of cinema everything’s possible, you just have to pay.
FTN: How difficult was it to shoot the brutal attack on the school as the violent scenes must have required a lot of advanced planning and choreography due to the number of cast and extras in the shots?
DV: In the film there are 140 actors and 10,000 extras. It’s a bit like a war film. The scenes are all difficult, but were fascinating to make. It was necessary to have a numerous, and incredibly well organized directing team that was willing to do anything, like “The Dirty Dozen”.
FTN: The scenes of humiliation in the police detention areas were particularly harrowing. Were these incidents described to you first hand from those who were there at the time?
DV: To write the screenplay, we read the all the documents relating to two trials. The witness statements were very detailed. But I also met people who were directly involved in the facts, both protestors and police.
FTN: Aside from the victims, the film also describes the individual police officers’ view of events. Were you able to talk to any of the officers involved in this incident and if so, what are their recollections and feeling over a decade later?
DV: Yes, as I was saying, I met some policemen. They don’t have a particular problem with what happened. Policemen are a bit like surgeons. After a dozen operations and blood splattering everywhere, surgeons go and have breakfast and joke around. If they didn’t react in this way, they wouldn’t be able to do the job. Then, they still think that they are on the right side, there are really only a few who reflect on certain things. The very few policemen who were convicted have been forced to think about it, but given the lightness of their sentences, even they can get away without doing so.
DV: My producer, Domenico Procacci di Fandango, had a lot of problems. In Italy it was impossble to find someone to finance the film; no television channel, public or private, wanted to pre-buy it. After we started shooting, we obtained some limited funding (one twentieth of the budget) from the Ministry of Performing Arts. I was pleased with this small amount of funding because it signified that the Italian State is not a monolith. Then, after the success of the film, thanks to an online campaign signed by hundreds of people, Italian state television (RAI) agreed to buy the rights. We’ll see if it will ever be broadcast, I’m very curious.
I’m working on various projects, but I haven’t decided exactly what to do…
FTN: Many thanks for taking the time to chat to us, Daniele