Q&A with ELSA & FRED director Marcos Carnevale

June 19, 2008

ELSA AND FRED director Marcos Carnevale took some time to answer a few of our questions about the film. The film, an uplifting tale of two completely different people who yearn for the same thing as they approach the end of their lives: one last chance to find happiness, opens at the Angelika New York on June 27.


Q: Can you describe ELSA AND FRED in your own words?
A: Elsa & Fred is a story about two people who, at the end of the road, discover that itâ??s never too late to love or to dream. Elsa always dreamed of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: the scene of â??La Dolce Vitaâ? at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it but Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroiani but with that love that took so long to arrive. Elsaâ??s dream was also my dream: all my life I wanted to meet Fellini. Itâ??s a story that teaches us that itâ??s never too late to live what we haven´t lived yet.It invites us to live with no fears.

Q: Why do you think that the emotional conquests of elderly people are always so endearing?
A: Elderly people are endearing because of their vulnerability and their need to be protected. Elderly people and children can awaken our tenderness; they are touching and they reach our feelings easily. Everything is magnified at these ages. Everything takes on a higher value. Love between two elderly people has a greater dimension because it is unlikely to happen. In younger people it’s normal to happen.

Q: The film makes reference to the Fellini classic LA DOLCE VITA â?? is that a film close to your heart?
A: LA DOLCE VITA was the first Fellini movie I saw and it changed my life. Since then I became his greatest fan. I even got his address and wrote letters to him. I keep two letters he wrote to me and they are my biggest treasures.

Q: Why was there a three year gap between the making of the film and the American release?
A: Latin-American movies must go a long way before having access to American screens. And during that process –than can take several years– the film must prove that it has achieved an enormous interest from the public.

Q: What inspired you to make this filmâ?¦ were there any influential people in your own life?
A: There are two people that inspired me to make this film: one was Fellini, who I never met personally and with whom I only kept an epistolary relationship. This movie besides making my dream of shooting in the Fontana di Trevi with my own Anita and Marcello come true, is a tribute to he â??Maestroâ?. The second person is my mother, who taught me to live without fear.

Q: What was the casting process like?
A: China Zorrilla was always Elsa, from the beginning, even before we started to write the script. I could never imagine another actress for that role. Elsa is a lady with a body 82 years old and head of a girl of 20. China is like that also in real life. As for Manuel Alexandre it was a suggestion made by the Spanish producer José Antonio Félez. Manuel is a great actor; he has worked in 320 films. He is a little bit like Mickey Rooney in Spain.

Q: Who are your biggest influences as a director?
A: Federico Fellini, Roman Polanski, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen.

Q: What do you most want audiences to get out of the film?
A: I would like them to realize that the moment to live is now. Future and past donâ??t exist; we must live our moment and make our dreams come true now.