Francesco Zippel’s Sergio Leone doc, which premieres on Tuesday at the Venice Film Festival, is the first portrait of the Italian master made with full support of his children Raffaella and Andrea.
Titled “Sergio Leone: The Man Who Invented America,” the high-profile doc is premiering in the Venice Classics section for docs on cinema. It features an impressive list of voices holding forth on what makes Leone special for them. Among these are: Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Giuseppe Tornatore, Frank Miller, Darren Aronofsky, Damien Chazelle and Robert De Niro (see clip).
But aside from Leone’s visionary talent as a director what emerges is that as his career escalated from the so-called “Dollars Trilogy” to “Once Upon a Time in the West” through to his final masterpiece, “Once Upon a Time in America,” Leone’s life was steeped in two inextricably linked passions: film and family.
“This documentary is basically centered around his legacy. The central question is: why is Sergio Leone still a major reference for world cinema, even among young directors?,” says Raffaella Leone.
“I think it’s important to understand why this legacy is having such a long life, even though he did not make many films,” she adds.
At the same time the doc stems from a desire to hone in “not just on what movies he made and why, but also on him as a person,” Leone’s daughter goes on to underline.
Basically what emerges is that he was a visionary director. “A bold man in the way he made movies that contrary to what part of the press wrote at the time when they were released, were difficult and complex.”
“They weren’t commercial movies; they had a lot of thought behind them,” Raffaella Leone points out. “The intricacies of his films emerge in the doc. More broadly, it encompasses his rapport with cinema, with his family, with his parents, and with his children. What surfaces is the type of person he was, more than in other docs that have been made about him,” she says.
“Sergio Leone: The Man Who Invented America” is produced by Sky Studios and Sky Italia in collaboration with Leone Film Group. NBCUniversal Global Distribution is selling international outside of Sky territories. Italy’s 01 Distribution will be releasing the doc in Italian cinemas on Oct. 20.
“What emerges is a sophisticated and cultured man,” says Sky Italia senior exec Roberto Pisoni. “And also this idea of a fantastic romanticized America. He fell in love with the American fable and told it through his films and his imagination.”
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