Pavel Cuzuioc, AT, 2016, 79’
World Premiere
Wednesday August 10th, 11.00, Cinema Teatro Kursaal
Thursday August 11th, 18.30, L'altra Sala

en / it / de / fr

They are here before the curtain rises. When the doors are closed and the great dramas fill the stage, they sit silently behind their desk, surrounded by hundreds of coats, jackets, hats, and umbrellas. They are the cloakroom clerks of the operas. One usually sees them at the entrance and instantly forgets about them after receiving a ticket. The film Secondo Me, however, invites the audience to stay in the lobby, where one can faintly hear the music being played behind the doors.

Pavel Cuzuioc’s film transforms into heroes people that are usually not even considered as extras: Nadezhda Sokhatskaya at the Odessa Opera, Roland Zwanziger of the Vienna State Opera, and Flavio Fornasa in La Scala in Milan. All three have been working for these world-renowned opera houses for decades. And yet, all three remain completely anonymous. Thanks to Pavel Cuzuioc, they finally take centre stage. The director follows them everywhere: to work, back to their home, to the coffee shop, to the blood donor clinic, or to the gym. Little by little, the film creates a picture of their life beyond the cloakrooms. The camera remains patiently on their trail. It lets them breathe and live. It’s a serene look at three fascinating lives, which in the end are just as exciting as the greatest operas.

The camera never goes inside the rooms of these opera houses – with one exception, but the show is already over and almost everyone has gone home. The incredible cinematography is composed of very wide and symmetric shots of the opera buildings or the Vienna library, interweaved with close-ups of the protagonists, and scenes that highlight specific details in their daily life – such as the hundreds of umbrellas that are organised like a work of art in Flavio’s cloakroom. The film is filled with oddities that belong to another era, like when a couple of old women dance in a park as the bandstand orchestra plays for them. It just feels perfectly logical for a film that focuses on people no one ever notices and who seem to come from another time, maybe even another world. Secondo Me means “according to me”, and all three protagonists have their own opinions, obsessions and stories which they are happy to share in this calm, sensible film.

Brigitte Häring