“Some directors of photography do not even read the script: I’m not like that, I think that the light is part of the movie story.”
These the words of Carlo Di Palma, an extraordinary Italian artist, director of photography of such masterpieces of cinema’s history: La grande guerra, L’armata Brancaleone (Mario Monicelli), Manhattan murder mystery, Radio days, Hannah and her sisters, Deconstructing Harry (Woody Allen), Divorce Italian Style (Pietro Germi), Blow Up, Deserto rosso (Michelangelo Antonioni), and much more.
Thanks to the Festival de Cine italiano de Madrid we had the chance to see the documentary Acqua e zucchero. Carlo Di Palma: i colori della vita, a journey through the memories of many cinema luminaries that worked with him, to frame a tribute to Di Palma and, at the same time, to do justice to the work of the artist behind the camera: the director of photography.
All the contributors -from Wim Wenders and Bernardo Bertolucci to Christian De Sica, Ken Loach, Woody Allen, Ettore Scola … – talk not only about the incredibly mastery of his work, but also about the humanity and kindness of this great artist, on the set and also outside.
Carlo Di Palma sought absolute perfection in those movies he chose to work for, movies that -in his opinion- needed to be extremely communicative, in addition to be a work of art. Di Palma and Allen made 12 movies together, they were a sort of an odd couple: Allen didn’t speak a word of Italian and Di Palma did all he could to speak English “using just four words” (Allen laughs), but -no one knows how- they understood one another wonderfully. The American director confesses to be shy and introverted, and that “I got on very well with Carlo” because he was -above all- polite and well-mannered, and Allen felt at ease with him.
“His movies (Allen’s ones) have a lot of dialogues, so we needed to move them” tells Di Palma in the documentary, explaining a camera movement thought up for a particular scene in Hannah and her sisters, first movie made together.
The result is a love declaration to cinema, to its history, to the passion leading filmmakers and crew, and also to Italy, land of “saints poets and navigators”, and directors of photography.
Fariborz Kamkari is a Kurdish Iranian director based in Italy. His filmography insludes other four movies: Black Tape: A Tehran Diary, the Videotape Fariborz Kambari Found in the Garbage (2002), The Forbidden Chapter (2006), Golakani Kirkuk —The Flowers of Kirkuk (2010) and Pitza e datteri (2015).