Isabella Ragonese: “You are the revolution”

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“Now that I’m over eighty, I can say that he saved me there photography. Photographing was my way of fight. In the middle of the death and al ache I looked for the beauty of the faces of little girls“. Letizia Battaglia appears in the first scene, she has her pink hair bob and in her hands the camera, tool and weapon of a life spent telling the story mafia and its massacres. To give voice to his words is Isabella Ragonesethat the director Roberto went wanted to interpret it in the miniseries Only for passion. Letizia Battaglia photographerbroadcast on Raiuno on 22 and 23 May, on the anniversary of Capable.

Letizia Battaglia passed away last April at the age of 87 and Isabella Ragonese says that “it still doesn’t seem possible to me now, I look at the phone and sometimes I want to call her but then I remember she’s gone”. Bringing her to the screen, she explains, is one of those tasks that require an extra dose of responsibility, because it’s about life and real people. A role that comes immediately after that of the prison officer of the series The king on Sky, and which is added to a curriculum of actress from theater and cinema, above all auteur. At 41, Isabella already has “an enviable amount of pension contributions”: she began acting at school at 16, then her film debut with Emanuele Crialese in New world in 2006 and two years after the actual launch, the lead role, a precarious exploited girl, in Whole life ahead from Paolo Virzì.

What struck you most about Letizia Battaglia?
“The bravery. The lesson it leaves is that despite a path of suffering, each of us has the duty to find our own voice, our own space in the world, even if this is not good for others, even if it causes pain. She changed her life and she started photographing that she was almost 40 years old, she had the strength to revolutionize everything. A continuous exercise of freedom. The important thing is to follow a path that resembles us ».

Did she do it too?
“Yes, looking back at the things I’ve done, for better or for worse, they all look like me. I chose without conditioning, listening to myself ».

Of her we remember above all the arthouse films.
“I’ve actually tried everything from niche to popular movies. For me it is a way to stay in love with this job, to try to return that little girl who dressed up and played a thousand characters. Of course, I had the privilege of being able to choose my roles, which is not at all obvious ».

And how do you choose the roles?
“They must scare me. Putting oneself at risk is an exercise in honesty ».

Is it difficult to find interesting female characters?
«I have been gifted with beautiful characters, but it is certainly more difficult for actresses, because there are fewer complex roles. I hope that things will change ».

It started with Virzì.
«A great fortune. He gave me a lot of auditions, he wasn’t convinced because he said I had an ancient face, too old for the role of the protagonist. At the eighth audition, which was the last, with Valerio Mastandrea, I thought: okay, I’m so happy, I’ll go back to doing my thing. Then he took me instead. I remember the emotion, I try to never forget it ».

Letizia Battaglia said she was saved by photography.
«In my case I think that my work has improved me as a person, that it has made me understand many things, there are more what it gives me than what it takes away from me. And I was lucky enough to find out soon what my path was ».

“In high school, thanks to a teacher who advised me to attend a theater workshop. In that room I immediately had the sensation of being in my dimension. The spark went off and with the madness and perseverance you have at that age I believed in it and moved on, working on my own things. I set up the scene by myself, the lights, I did everything by myself ».

And his family?
«Nobody makes cinema, my mother is a housewife and my father is a lawyer, but the value of culture has always been important, I grew up in a house full of books and VHS. When I did the pm in the series on Yara, I had the blessing of my father who said to me: you see, you had to do my job… ».

Did they encourage her?
“It was a natural journey, there was never a moment when I clinked my glass and announced that I was going to be an actress. When acting became a job, my mother told me: I hoped not but you’re good ». He laughs.

Letizia Battaglia moved in a world of men.
“Seeing this miniseries is a lesson on all the things we take for granted but which we also have thanks to women like her. Letizia she leaves the house of her father-master to go to the house of another man, her husband, where she was also denied the possibility of reading and listening to music. We have made great strides but we must move forward, beyond my environment ».

For instance?
“In your field, journalism, there are many women but very few newspaper directors. We hope that things will change, I trust in the new generations ».

And in the cinema?
“I have had a privileged path, I haven’t done the classic apprenticeship of a thousand auditions, but for sure we should have more films with a female point of view, to make room for other voices too”.

Did you meet Letizia Battaglia before shooting the series?
“It’s strange because Letizia is one of those people I always thought I knew, she was part of the history of our city, Palermo. I had met her a thousand times in the past, she was very active, she was an important voice after the massacres. Before the series I had interviewed her for an art program on Sky, I had to ask her questions about vinyls and she surprised me because, contrary to what you imagine of a mature person, she considered records an old thing, she was always addressed to the future “.

He was also an outspoken person.
“Perhaps the most outspoken I’ve ever known, she could be awe-inspiring. It provoked the interlocutor, he always tried to make you uncomfortable, it was his way of seeking the essence of people beyond structures and conditioning ».

What conditioning have you suffered?
«Look, I’m so big-headed… it’s a flaw, I recognize it, but I don’t even remember if someone tells me I should be a certain way or do certain things. In this I resemble Letizia. Everyone puts their mouth on what she does or what a woman looks like, but I always didn’t care. In my family I had the same opportunities as my brother, I learned equality in this way. But I’d like a world where you don’t need to be so stubborn. “

Photo by Nicola De Rosa. Report by Flavia Galantini. Rocca Santamorena make-up. Hair Giorgia Trezzi. Mohair sweater, Falconeri. Jewelry, Swarovski

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Source: Vanity Fair

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