Director Nanni Moretti on the set of Habemus Papam
What would you do if you were elected Pope but didn’t really feel you were cut out for the massive responsibilities of the role? That’s the dilemma that actor/director Nanni Moretti presents in Habemus Papam, an Italian feature film that was nominated for the Palme d’Or at this years Cannes Film Festival. Moretti plays the part of a psychoanalyst called in by the Vatican to help the Pope resolve his spiritual crisis.
Director of photography Alessandro Pesci together with camera operator Fabrizio Vicari shot the movie mainly at the Cinecitta studios in Rome where recognizable landmarks from nearby Vatican City such as The Sistine Chapel and the balcony of the Pope were recreated.
Actor Michel Piccoli is a reluctant Pope in Habemus Papam
Alessandro Pesci describes the movie as “complex and magnificent” but it’s also essentially a comedy drama about a character overwhelmed by the responsibilities of his role. So how did Pesci set about achieving the right ‘look’ for this movie?
“In pre-production, I watched a lot of European and American movies set in the Vatican,” he confesses. “I had the feeling that in those sumptuous and rich locations the strong rays of light could turn the images into a serious drama transforming it almost into a ‘noir’ style. For me, the light of Habemus Papam had simply to show the faces and emotions of the characters; sometimes supporting their joy, sometimes accompanying a more somber mood. I tried to follow the intention that director Moretti was recreating on stage. My pictorial references included Caravaggio, Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell and Richard Estes.”
“I used KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219 and KODAK VISION3 250D Color Negative Film 5207 film stocks,” he continued, “Because I like the highly saturated colours and rich black details. Reds and blacks were always present in the scenes and these stocks allow those colours in particular to be rebalanced to suit the overall tone of the story. I chose film rather than digital because film reproduces better the richness of the nuances of the ancient environments, the costumes and the many faces that are part of this film.”
Habemus Papam underwent digital post-production at Cinecitta Digital where it was scanned at 6K and then recorded at 4K. The film has been released in DCP and 35mm positive prints. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2011 and won the Golden Globe award for Best Film. Alessandro Pesci won the Silver Ribbon 2011 for best cinematography from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists for Habemus Papam.
Alessandro Pesci concluded by paying the following tribute to director and actor Nanni Moretti. “He is a maestro who is attentative to each element in a film. Just by listening carefully to him, I was able to answer any queries that arose during the making of this magnificent movie.”