Shoemaker of Dreams, Documentaries – The Hollywood Reporter

Luca Guadagnino is perhaps best known on these shores as a lush screenplay director Call me by your name, Suspiria And this year Bones and all. But since the beginning of his career, he has also directed documentaries (Bertolucci on Bertolucci; Cuoco Contadino, About one of Italy’s most creative chefs; among others), which he calls “the highest and noblest art form of cinema”.

His latest Salvatore: Shoemaker of DreamsAbout the rise of master shoe artisan Salvatore Ferragamo, it opens in theaters on November 4. With a name that has long graced storefronts on high-end fashion streets around the world, Ferragamo began his career as the footwear-obsessed child of a poor Italian. Farmers who started training for the field at the age of 9. Salvatore Ferragamo was followed from these humble origins to Santa Barbara, California, where he initially created shoes (especially boots for Westerns) for the film industry, and later in Hollywood with clients including Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish. His work also appeared in films like The Ten Commandments And Thief of Bagdad. Eventually, Ferragamo returned to Italy, where he patented the modern wedge-heel shoe and invented the steel shank that supported the shoe’s arch, prioritizing comfort even as he continued to create glamor icons such as Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.

Guadagnino’s portrait of Ferragamo’s journey to the top of his career draws on extensive interviews with family members and footage of the Ferragamo production process, as well as archival footage and photographs from the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo. Michael Stuhlbarg (who worked with Guadagnino Call me by your name And Bones and all) narrates excerpts from Ferragamo’s 1955 autobiography A shoemaker of dreams. Guadagnino wants viewers, he says, “to understand what true genius is, to confront them with genius.”

THR Guadagnino spoke with Guadagnino about his entry into the Ferragamo family, the mystery that still surrounds the iconic footwear designer, and what topics he would like to tackle in future documentary work.

How did you first become interested in directing a film about Salvatore Ferragamo?

I’ve always been interested in documentaries and I’ve always been interested in telling stories about people. I remember I was working for the Ferragamo brand, I was doing advertising and I bumped into a book. A shoemaker of dreams, an autobiography he wrote with the help of a couple of Hollywood screenwriters at the time. While reading the book, I realized that there was something so fascinating about this man’s personality: a vulnerable, maverick, eccentric man, dedicated to a mission in life and pursuing it with every instinct and every strength. has within itself. And the idea of ​​craft and the idea of ​​invention of things and the idea of ​​the last century is quite strong for me.

You’ve worked with the brand before, what was the process like bringing Ferragamo’s family on board to participate in the documentary? Do you need to build trust over time?

It was quite smooth. I met Diego de San Giuliano a few years ago [Ferragamo’s grandson], and so we have already known each other for a long time. So I think he is a good way for the family and he allowed me to express myself with the family.

Do they have any stipulations for someone in their family to film, or are they happy to pursue something you’re interested in?

I was interested in Ferragamo’s talent, I wasn’t interested in anything else, so they were really ready for that right away.

How much archival material did you have access to in the making of this film?

Everything. We’ve got the ability to go through every single thing preserved in Museum Ferragamo’s huge archives. Everything really.

Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo, content A shoemaker of dreams.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

What was that process like, having access to so much information for the film?

Well, not only do we have access to the actual Ferragamo archives, but we’ve dug really deep into many other archives, including Maison Dior’s archives or the historical archives of Italian national TV, where we can source footage from. 10s and 20s and 30s and 40s and 50s. And all the archives we can reach in Hollywood to see the world of Hollywood on film. In a documentary, I think when you collect so many ingredients, it’s about the richness of it but at the same time the rigor of bringing this material together and forming something strong.

Why did you decide to partner with fashion journalist Dana Thomas, who wrote the film, and what did she bring to the end result?

I met Dana a few years ago and her fashion books are amazing. She has such a reputation in the field. I think I’m fascinated by the way she sees things [by] Because she, like me, likes systems and she likes to understand the level of systems and the meaning of the system. She is truly unashamedly curious, curious, curious, curious. I think she brings her beautiful mental toughness, journalistic precision and a lot of fun to everything she does. Because I like beef very much.

Throughout your career you’ve made a mix of documentaries and feature films. Do you bring any specific elements from your work in scripted films to the documentaries you make, or vice versa?

I think that in filming, especially in scripted filming, you can always find a way that doesn’t look like drama but is like behavior. I think that’s what that documentary is about as well, you can see things without an idea of ​​the drama behind what happens. Salvatore It’s more of a talking-heads documentary, so it’s a little different. Of course, I have yet to tackle a documentary of my behavior, which I like – like Leviathan, I think it’s a masterpiece, it is. But one day.

Yes, I am going to ask you for documentaries in the future, what topics interest you?

Oh, I saw this movie that captured my heart so strongly Honeyland A couple of years ago. It was just beautiful and it was so humbling, [a] Beautiful movie. One day I’ll probably stop making fiction and really commit myself to it. I think it is the highest and noblest art form of cinema, the documentary.

Did you learn anything about Ferragamo during the process of making this film that really surprised you or challenged your view of him?

Well, I think Ferragamo is very reserved. And he was very determined, he was a genius, a man who was focused on getting things done the way he wanted. And he was really able to show his side through his work, conscious of form and color and daring. But he’s very reserved: we don’t know much about his emotional life until he meets Wanda Ferragamo. That’s an interesting thing to me, it’s kind of a mystery, what was this desire like? Where was his desire and what was his solitude like in LA, in Hollywood at that time? How did he… I know it’s another era, but at the same time, desire is desire, so that’s still a big question mark for me.

Why did you choose Michael Stuhlbarg to narrate this film? Why is he the right voice for this?

Well, because Michael is one of the best American actors alive and one of my best friends and someone I would happily work with anytime. why not

Ultimately, it’s what you hope for Will viewers walk away from this film?

I hope people can understand that you can’t confine yourself to one dimension in your life, there are things you can achieve with your willpower and your sense of effort, but I want the audience to understand what real talent is. , to counter them with genius. He is a genius.

Apart from the two new films, what are you working on now?

I’m starting to mix ChallengersMy new movie with Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Feist, which goes until January.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, Click here to subscribe.

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