Dazed Digital

Rome / Italiano

On Set with Woody Allen's The Bop Decameron

August 11, 2011

An inside report from the set of the legendary director's latest subversive epic being shot in Rome

  • Text by Tommaso Fagioli

The Roman summer reserves pleasant surprises for the lucky tourists who came to visit the capital in August, but also for all those Romans who decided to make some vacanze intelligenti (Italian expression for "smart holidays") in September when most of the people will be back in town. Walking through the streets of the city centre, through Campo di Fiori, Trastevere and the Ara Pacis, it's pretty easy to find the cast of the new - and not so "off limit" as press agencies state - Woody Allen’s movie, tentatively titled "The Bop Decameron", the American director is filming in Rome until September 3. The movie is a comedy in four episodes, loosely inspired by Boccaccio's Decameron. The cast, apart from Woody Allen himself, includes Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page and Roberto Benigni.

Last night, Satellite Voices was on the evening set located in Piazza della Repubblica, at Cinema Moderno. The atmosphere was vibrant and chaotic where the real and the imaginary merged together through very short takes and the idle times. We spoke with Darius Khondji (in the picture left / blue hat), the talented Iranian-French director of photography, who has worked with the likes of David Fincher and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Khondji told us how he's deeply in love with Rome and its cinema, he was six-years-old when he first came to the capital and got lost in the streets of the city for three days, wandering between despair and wonder, as if in a neo-realist film, until he was found by his parents who were staying at the Excelsior Hotel, right in the heart of Fellini’s "Via Veneto". A sign of destiny he explained, leaving me with a provocative question: why are there no longer political films being made in Italy? I didn't know what to answer right in the moment.

Woody Allen was dressed in his classic blue shirt and beige pants and now 75-years-old seemed absorbed and so very focused in his own thoughts. Benigni, less hyper-active than usual, listened to his directives with great care and a touch of reverence. The crew confided to us that Woody is very kind and calm on set.

His ability to alienate himself from the surroundings was magnetic, his gaze so focused and intense. This is the strongest memory of the evening. Just a few days before Ferragosto (an Italian festivity in the mid of Agoust) and, with this world financial crisis, what better holiday than a day in the centre of sunny Rome, having a sneak peek at Woody Allen in the midst of a masterpiece?

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