Bologna

Standing under the portico on Via Rizzoli, in a strange orange dress, which has just been fitted to me, I wait for the cameraman, director and sound man to circle round for the next take. Small crowds gather on the opposite side of the street to watch, ruining the authenticity of the scene. Bologna is a town full of film-makers so we shouldn’t be such a novelty! One might wonder how Enrico roped all these people into working for free, but somehow his enthusiasm, energy and passion draws people to him like bees to a flower.

It’s hard to believe I just arrived in Bologna this morning and now, here I am in my first (and probably last) small acting role in a short fiction film. Enrico strides around in slow-motion with his hands outstretched, palms facing forward, trying to show the cameraman exactly what angle and motion he is after. His dark circular John-Lennon-style glasses and simple, effortless style only add to the mystery and presence of this man.

I remember when I met him in East London a couple of years ago now. He was working on a documentary about the Olympic Regeneration of Stratford, called The Golden Temple. He stopped me on the street for a short interview and I ended up assisting him with interviewing others.  I remember his wide-eyed expression and sing-song accent were so pleasant and endearing.

Here now, under watch of the twin towers of Bologna, his mood is far more serious and focused. Two non-actors have flown themselves in from London to re-enact their real life relationship on film. They are only here for one week, and there are many scenes to get through. The atmosphere is heavy with their unresolved issues. We make our way through take after take of the same scene, improvising since we haven’t been given any lines. Two hours and twenty takes later, the sequence is complete. I can now revert to my more comfortable role as set photographer.

The props lady with short hair, wearing mens clothes holds open an umbrella with a map of stars on the inside, shading us from the hot afternoon sun.  I’m pretty sure she is gay, as is the bearded costume designer Atillo.  My guess was confirmed later that week when Atillo’s equally bearded younger boyfriend accompanied us to Modena for the final scene. Bologna is home to what seems like a disproportionately large amount of gay men and women than is usual. Everyone here is stylish, especially the older generation. Men and women in their 50s and 60s glide around on bicycles wearing their finest attire. One man cycling with an umbrella balanced on his shoulder, smiles a broad smile as I snap him with my camera.

We take a break at Café La Linea, with its sunflower yellow walls and checkered floor. Enrico sits down with the British non-actor Mike and popular Italian actor Ivano Marescotti to discuss the next scene.  However, they end up discussing politics, Enrico’s face rich with expression, his hands gesticulating wildly.  Ivano and Mike barely get a word in edge-ways, but listen attentively. They are so consumed in conversation they barely notice my camera has joined the table.

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