We had the pleasure of having in the 2021 edition of our festival Cinema e Ambiente Avezzano Nicola Nocella, actor, author and great supporter of the environmental cause. Nicola served as president of the jury and we wanted to know him a little better.
Hi Nicola! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role in the Cinema e Ambiente Avezzano 2021 festival.
I’m Nicola Nocella, I’m an actor, a young Italian actor and a very good friend of Avezzano, a very good friend of The Factory, a very good friend of Paolo and the whole group of people who work with him. I worked with Paolo last year on a film, a short film, I liked it a lot, I liked it a lot and, luckily, the audience liked it a lot too, so I came here, I fell in love with the Marsica, I fell in love with this territory and when Paolo asked me to come back, I came back, I carved out a week just to be here, so I am very happy to be here. I am the president of the juries of the Cinema e Ambiente Avezzano festival. I am the “head” of the juries for short films, feature films and documentaries, even if “head” is the wrong word. We’re here, not to judge because I would never do that and it’s something that none of us would do, but to give, to express our opinion on what our feelings are, on what, perhaps, are the works that we liked the most, the films that we liked the most and to seek an agreement and then proclaim our winners.
Talking about the films you’ve seen, we won’t ask you which one struck you in particular, but in general, what were your impressions?
Obviously, I can’t tell you which films impressed me the most, partly so as not to spoil them, and partly because it wouldn’t be fair to everyone. But one thing is certain: there is a great quality. It starts from a great quality, which means two things: first of all, luckily there is a great attention to the environment, a great attention to this theme, which allows us to create films, works that have as a theme, that have as their focus the attention to the environment and to create them in a very high quality level. So I am always amazed when I go to a festival and the quality of all the works is very high. In this festival, thanks to the skill of the artistic director but also to the beauty of the products themselves, the quality is very high. This is the thing that struck me the most, it strikes me a lot how young people, very young people have a special attention to tell stories. And it always surprises me a lot, especially in documentaries, how young people approach older people to be told things, their curiosity, their desire to discover, their desire to reconnect with the earth. There is a friend of mine, Caparezza, who the other day in an interview he made because his new album has just come out, said: “I’m getting old and so I’ve started to cultivate the land,” and it’s true. The more you come away from your youth, the more you come back on an ancestral level to the land, to wanting to farm, to wanting to tell. So I was amazed by the fact that I saw, that I loved through the eyes of the people who shot it how, for example, lentils in the Sicilian islands are losing that strength that they had on a traditional level in cultivation, and then how we want to approach that or the potato and quinoa in Peru. Or how a Maasai boy had to run away from his village to go to school and then came back to start one at home. I have to say I’m really impressed. So maybe it’s because on my own personal level, on Nicola’s level, I’m experiencing this very large rapprochement with the land that these themes really strike me.
In your opinion, what is the importance of an environmental festival of this kind in a city like Avezzano that you’ve had the opportunity to discover for a short time and with which, however, you fell in love?
A festival like this is fundamental in a city like Avezzano. First of all, it is fundamental that it goes on, that the organization and the desire to do it persevere, because, I have to say the truth, I saw less involvement of young people than I would have expected and I hoped there would be many more young people. Really, I hoped so because if it is really us or those older than us who have ruined the earth, it is only fair that they are the ones who are in charge of it now and love this thing and educate themselves first and then educate us or those older than us to behave in a certain way. So, a festival like this in a city like Avezzano which is a city where you can see the sky, it’s a city where you can see the stars, it’s a city on a human scale in the true sense of the word, is really important. This city, surrounded by mountains, which loves nature, which explains to you just by looking around what it means to live in contact with nature, needs a festival like this, needs a festival that cares about cinema and the environment and this mixture. It needs it. And so precisely because I have fallen in love with this land, my heart aches a little at not having seen the many young people that I was hoping to see, because, in fact, I believe that this is the subject not of the future, but of the present. And they have to deal with it as we do, as we all do, but they even more so for a simple reason: they have much more time to spend on this land.
Speaking of this, in your opinion, what could be the right vehicle to bring young people closer to these issues?
I believe that the right vehicle to bring young people closer to these issues is first of all to continue to raise awareness in the media by those who influence today. So making sure that we address this issue. Obviously, it is the people who are in charge of making laws, of legislating that first have to take care of making sure that there is an increasing attention to what is the response of young people, kids, but of the entire population to such an important issue. So one of the ways to convey, in fact, is to deal with those who influence the thought and also, of course, to use the images because you know, I was struck by a comment of a viewer watching a movie said “I am one of the people who collects waste, but to see on the screen someone who deliberately throws a waste hurt me, hurt me physically”. That’s it, seeing things, since they are conveyed through cinema, beautiful cinema, done well like the one we are seeing here, is important. Saying, telling these things is one thing, seeing them is another. Coming, seeing them can move something inside you. You can get closer to what you’ve seen, even on an emotional level. And that’s why cinema is probably the most effective vehicle right now to talk about certain topics.
Speaking of the role you play, what is the importance and, more than importance, the duty and responsibility of the jury president?
The jury president, first of all, has to see everything. So I’ve seen everything that’s in the competition and then, most importantly, the jury president is not the one who commands, he’s just responsable for conveying the idea of a jury made up of many people in this case. So, actually I’m listening to everyone’s opinions and I’m trying to put a balance between everything I’m listening to, everything I’m being told. I have to say, honestly, we pretty much agree on everything. In my particular case, I’m probably going to offer acting mentions, maybe for someone who particularly impressed me with their performance. But let’s see what the jury says. The responsibility is enormous, but at the same time it’s beautiful because it “forced” me to watch all the films in competition and I must say that it was worth it. They were five beautiful, long days and the screenings were very good, the audience was there and I was very impressed. As I said, unfortunately, there are not many kids, but there are people older than me, passionate, who came back every day and stayed all afternoon with me. We’re friends now, we know each other, we’ve been seeing each other every day for a week. The responsibility is minor compared to the beauty of what happened and how it “forced” me to approach the festival. “Forced” is a word I use on purpose, laughing, because I think that when you go to a festival the best thing is to watch all the films in competition or as many as you can with the responsibility of having to choose, to decide; there’s the urgency of having to do it at some point and then I wanted to watch them with the audience because, in my opinion, cinema is a place as well as being an art, a job and so seeing and hearing what the audience next to me said, the feedback from the audience next to me was nice and I must say that some judgment changed, was influenced.
Thank you Nicola for honoring us with your presence, we at Cinema e Ambiente Avezzano greet you and wish you the best, hoping to meet again soon.
Thanks to you. I want to thank the organizers, The Factory and all the organization of Cinema e Ambiente Avezzano. I want to thank the city of Avezzano that has welcomed me with so much sympathy. I want to thank Marcello Foti because he is an important figure for this festival, and he has been one in my life too. I thank the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, and then, I want to thank my olive trees because they are the ones who taught me to love the earth. The ancient Greeks condemned to death those who cut down an olive tree and I believe that today, obviously not reaching that point, at least on an emotional level, we must come to think that it is a huge crime to cut down a tree…we must come to think that cutting down a tree is a crime and planting them is simply a duty and, therefore, thanks to my olive trees.