Rome’s Piazza Vittorio, located a few steps from Termini station, is home to foreigners. Africans and Afghans live and sleep with homeless people. Peruvians and Bolivians gather here to celebrate the “Return of the Sun”. There is also a Senegalese guy who works as a bartender at a kiosk bar owned by an old Italian woman. A Chinese woman owns a restaurant. Even Abel Ferrara – who lives in the same square with his Moldovan girlfriend and their daughter – is a foreigner. When her mother came from Moldova to Rome, she worked as a housekeeper. Their neighbour Willem Dafoe – who moved here three years ago with his wife, a film director Giada Colagrande – is a foreigner as well. However, there is also a group of people that doesn’t like “strangers,” composed of members of the extreme right wing party called CasaPound. Some people are nostalgic for the old times when Claudio Villa sang the Chitarra Romana, and Piazza Vittorio was a big market. Still, the nearby Colle Oppio park was more shabby than it is today. “There must be a diversity of experiences, opportunities and history,” says Dafoe. Ferrara’s creative method is deeply human, close to recent works by Frederick Wiseman and Claire Simon, since it doesn’t matter where the author’s actors come from. What is important is threir personal struggle for survival in this uncertain and precarious world.
Abel Ferrara was born in New York in 1951. His debut feature horror The Driller Killer (1979) secured his cult status. He is the author of masterpieces like King of New York, Bad Lieutenant, Body Snatchers and The Funeral, filmed in collaboration with his loyal scriptwriter Nicholas St. John. He recently decided to leave the US and move to Italy, where he filmed Mary, Go Go Tales and Pasolini. The title of his latest documentary Piazza Vittorio is as a matter of fact his current Roman address.