An Interview with Bruno Pischiutta and Daria Trifu, the Great Creators, in View of Their Filming in Greece
Written by Eleni Giannakidou in Greek language and published in Kulturosupa, Greece on November 11, 2023 – the following is the English language translation of the interview.
With Bruno Pischiutta, one of the most important directors of his generation with remarkable works to his credit and a recent member of the European Film Academy and Daria Trifu, the acclaimed producer and director of the Global Nonviolent Film Festival, we chat under the shadow of the Pieria, here in idyllic Greece, where in a few months one of the three films of the Pischiutta’s anticipated film project tentatively titled “The Trilogy” will be shot.
I have to admit that I feel lucky and at the same time excited with a bit of embarrassment to have Bruno and Daria in front of me and that they immediately accepted my proposal to interview them and ask them a lot of questions… The questions and queries are so many that I am dividing the interview into two parts, so that I and all the cinephiles reading this article can get as much information as possible about these two important people of Art.
I start immediately by asking questions to Bruno Pischiutta and I will continue with Daria Trifu, thus gaining a complete picture of their lives and careers in cinema and beyond.
Dear Bruno, can you tell us a little about your first steps in cinema as an actor and your first important collaborations?
I started my career in theatre in the early 1960s in Udine, where I produced, directed and acted in a recital of William Shakespeare’s poems and monologues. In 1962 I produced, directed and performed in a recital of poems and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht.
Bruno Pischiutta playing the lead in his film “Ultimo incontro a Venezia” (1980)
In 1963 I performed in La Pesca, a drama by Eugene O’Neill. In 1964 I performed in a drama by Father David Maria Turoldo, “Quando LaTerra E’ Madre”, staged in Udine at the Monumental Church of San Francis. In 1965, at the age of 18, I played in “Pentecost”, another Turoldo drama, staged at the Velodromo Vigorelli in Milan and performed in front of an audience of 9,000 people. I had the honour of playing before Cardinal Giovanni Montini, who a few months later, became Pope Paul VI.
In 1965 I moved to Trieste where I graduated from the Institute of Dramatic Arts and became a professional actor. In Trieste I worked as an actor in theater and for RAI radio while I studied philosophy at the University of Trieste. In 1966, I auditioned and was accepted as an actor in the Italian theatre group of the Narodno Kazaliste Theatre in Rijeka, in the former Yugoslavia.
In the late 1960s, American film production companies began to abandon Italy as their preferred location and started shooting in Croatia. There, I was selected as an actor in films produced by Columbia Pictures, Dino De Laurentis Productions and several others. As a professional film and theatre actor, I had the opportunity to work with great directors like Nanni Loy and Francesco Rosi, some great actors like Nino Manfredi, Martin Landau, Jason Robards and Peter Falk, Oscar-winning director of photography Pasqualino DeSantis and others.
I was cast in “Rosolino Paternò, Soldato…” (1970), directed by Nanni Loy, with Nino Manfredi, Jason Robards and Peter Falk. I also took part in the Hollywood Studio production of “Many Wars Ago” (1970), directed by Francesco Rosi, with Mark Frechette, Gian Maria Volontè and Pier Paolo Capponi. In this film I played in a scene next to Alain Cuny, the great French actor who appeared as an organist in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”.
Bruno Pischiutta and Alain Cuny in “Uomini Contro” (1970)
In 1972, at the Venice Film Festival, I received the Critics’ Award for Best Supporting Actor for my performance in “Many Wars Ago”. After that film award, I went to Milan and had a very successful audition with Dario Fo who hired me. Dario Fo, later, as is well known, got the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Could you describe your career in directing and producing films? (difficulties and happy moments you faced until you became recognizable to the general public)
My film career, as I mentioned before, started in Croatia in 1970. At first I did very small roles in films of big Italian and American production, then in 1970 I made the film “Many Wars Ago”, directed by Francesco Rosi, which won me the Critics’ Prize at the Venice Film Festival.
I continued to work in theatre and from ’77 to ’82 I wrote screenplays but also produced and directed four films in Italy. The first one, which was a very controversial film with a political background, made me famous in a week all over Europe, while the last one won an award at the New York Film Festival and brought my reputation to an international level.
At that point I decided to go to North America and specifically Canada, because I knew it was the right time. I have never regretted this choice because, I believe that my European background, integrated with everything I learned about American film production and also about the American banking system, made me unique and benefited me.
Bruno Pischiutta on the set of his film “Life’s Charade” (1987) in Toronto
My first films in Italy had existential themes. The films I made later in Canada and America were mainly medical subjects but always connected with the social element. Issues like bulimia, drug addictions and unexplained teenage suicide are social issues that, when not dealt with properly, become medical issues.
Bruno Pischiutta in Africa shooting “Punctured Hope”, his feature film on female genital mutilation. The film was qualified for nomination consideration at the Academy Awards, and the Political Film Society in Hollywood nominated the film as Best Film Exposé and Best Film on Human Rights of the year.
Being famous in the Italian cinema of those years was not easy, nor was settling in America, where I arrived at the age of 36. Clearly, the work and career of a director often presents great problems that carry over into private life. I’m not complaining about my choices. I have always tried to make something good, of high quality and think more about making films that will stimulate attention and stimulate the minds of the audience about social issues, rather than pursuing success and money. I think I left Italy at the right time and I don’t regret it.
Bruno and Daria on the set of their film “Punctured Hope” (2009) in Ghana, Africa
What I can say about this career is that I have travelled most of the world, in Europe, America, China and Africa, I have been lucky enough to learn many things, live interesting situations and, throughout the years, I have always been surrounded by great talents, actors, musicians, directors and writers.
Recently, you became a member of the European Film Academy. What are your feelings as an award-winning and renowned filmmaker to be part of this Academy?
I am very happy that now, as my time is coming to an end, I was welcomed by the European Film Academy as a director, and I hope that Daria and the Global Nonviolent Film Festival will soon become members too. Together with the greatest film talents in Europe I will do everything I can now and in the future to help the European Film Academy.
Bruno Pischiutta directing Christina Macris in the feature film MAYBE. Part of the film was shot in Pischiutta’s studio, The Film Palace, in Toronto, Canada.
Bruno on the set in Toronto directing his film “Maybe…?” (2004)
Bruno on the set in Toronto directing his film “Maybe…?” (2004)
How did your collaboration with Daria Trifu come about? Do you think it was an important milestone in your life?
When Daria immigrated to Canada with her family and came to Toronto, she sought the best way to get into show business. Film was what she wanted to do and was one of the main reasons for her migration to Canada. Daria, therefore, visited a few local talent agencies in Toronto until one of those agencies referred her to me.
That’s how I met Daria Trifu who was then 18 years old. After a short audition and a long interview, I accepted her as a student at the International Film Workshops I held that year in Toronto.
Daria therefore had the opportunity to demonstrate her excellent education and culture and, after years of studying at art school, her artistic temperament. She graduated at the end of the Workshop and, immediately afterwards, began working with me at the company I was running at the time: Toronto Pictures.
In those early years, I taught her everything I could, and traveled extensively with her in the US and Europe. Daria organized the attendance at major festivals for the company and I arranged for her to be present at many meetings I had with business people, lawyers, accountants and important entertainment people. Within a few years, Daria was primed to the point of producing “Punctured Hope” with me in Africa on a $5.8 million budget and became one of the youngest film producers in North America.
Full page feature story about the making of “Punctured Hope” in the Toronto Star, Canada
Two years later she, who had by then become a vice-president, took Toronto Pictures public. In little more than a month, the stock price shot up from 5 cents to $1.40 bringing the company’s market value to $140 million.
Daria Trifu and Bruno Pischiutta interviewed at the Nasdaq in New York City
Our partnership continues to this day. We complement each other: she’s a woman, I’m a man, she’s young and I’m old, she has an excellent ability to analyze details, while I can often see the big picture. This reality ensures that our decisions are almost always extremely balanced and we continue for years to learn from each other.
After many years of working together, I can say that our partnership has been so pivotal in my life and career that I can’t even imagine what my world would be like without it.
It has become known that you are in preparation for your new film project tentatively entitled “The Trilogy” consisting of three films, one of which we even learned that will be shot in Greece. Tell us about this project!
The leading role in the film project will be played by British actress Stephanie Tripp, who is the absolute star of all three films.
Actress Stephanie Tripp
What I can tell you today about these films is that the story of the first film starts in France and centers on the lead character played by Tripp. At the end of the first film, the protagonist decides to take a month’s holiday in Greece. The second film will be shot entirely in Greece and will allow us to follow her story. The third film will deal with the protagonist’s return to Nice and will conclude the Trilogy.
The protagonist of the films will spend her Greek holidays in a beautiful resort located near the beach and including a gym and spa. During this time, she will meet other couples who are spending their holidays in that area. They are mostly foreign tourists and middle class Greeks. So, we will see how they evolve in different ways and how different relationships develop today.
The films that make up the Trilogy will be very important and positive for the LGBT community, and apart from freedom of speech, they will also touch on many situations and events of our time concerning the sexualization of children, Satanism and pedophilia.
There will be two ways to understand this film work: the easiest and most popular way will be to follow the course of the love affairs that take place because a very particular morality can emerge, but there will also be a much more sophisticated way of reading the plot.
Where did your inspiration for “The Trilogy” come from?
I can’t really answer that question, because the films are inspired by the work of an extremely controversial genius writer of the past. Once revealed, the author’s name alone will guarantee worldwide audience interest in “The Trilogy”. For marketing reasons, this author’s name will not be revealed until the start of the multi-million dollar promotional campaign that will precede the release of the films. To date, even the principal actors who will play in the films that make up “The Trilogy” do not know the name of this author.
Why did you choose Greece to shoot the second film of “The Trilogy” and how did the geography, the history, the landscapes, and the Greek social reality influence the thoughts of the producers?
The reasons for deciding to shoot in Greece are multiple. In one sense, since the protagonist is going on vacation, why not choose Greece? Although this is not a landscape film, Greece offers great sea views and the whole Greek summer is a magical experience.
Then there are other reasons to consider: personally, I’m very happy to be able to shoot my films in places I know. I have visited Pieria many times in the last few years and I know the locations and the people very well, which gives me a great advantage.
I am also happy to bring part of the film industry here, because this industry is always location friendly. It’s not an industry that brings pollution. On the contrary, it always showcases the main locations where the films are shot. I am also very happy that I bring good paying jobs to those involved in filming and bring in revenue to hotels, restaurants and general infrastructure.
The other main reason I chose Greece is not for the touristic beauty or anything like that, but because I consider this place one of the last possible paradises to live in. Clearly there are different kinds of issues here as well, but there is always a consistent quality of life and freedom here that is hard to find in North America or other places today.
Who are your protagonists in “The Trilogy” and what criteria did you use to select specific actors?
It is not easy to answer this question, since there are 70 actors in “The Trilogy” and each of them has a specific and important role. The age of the characters varies from 11 to 65.
Also, there is no formula for choosing the actors you need in a job like this, but I have to say that I’m always thinking about potential actors for a particular part as I’m writing. I also try to make sure that I can give key roles to actors I know, who I have already worked with and who have proven their abilities.
We conclude Part A of the interview by asking Bruno the last question: What is Bruno Pischiutta’s biggest ambition after the expected success of “The Trilogy”, and he answers:
I wrote recently that when you’re old, memories are the most important thing in your life, because they’re all you have. When you die, your legacy is the most important thing, because it’s what you leave behind…
The above quote, I have it as my first thought in life and I wish that younger people have this thought about the legacy they will leave behind to others , their posterity… I wish, that I have few more years of life ahead of me and good health so that I can at least make one film a year and show through it what I have not yet been able to express.
When I asked Bruno earlier about Daria Trifu, he said that “after many years of working together I can say that our collaboration has been so pivotal in my life and career that I can’t even imagine what my world would be like without her”. On this note, I eagerly address my questions to Daria, a beautiful, young, multi-talented woman who smiles alongside Bruno, as she starts to answer with a pleasant mood about dance, painting, acting, art, documentaries and of course about the Global Nonviolent Film Festival that took place last month with a huge participation of films from all countries of the world!
Daria Trifu and Bruno Pischiutta on set in Brasov, Romania
Dear Daria, we would like to know more about your very interesting start in the arts beyond the information that Bruno mentioned to us.
I grew up in an artistic environment. From the moment I was born, my mother was the director of a dance club and then a theatre club in my town. The actors were students and all the rehearsals were late at night. My mother took me to work with her every day. In fact, everyone called her “Mom” because I called her that and it became her name.
I grew up on stage, surrounded by performers, costume designers, makeup artists and creative minds. I traveled to various cities where students participated in national dance and theater festivals. My friends, the people I spent most of my time with in my youth, were actually adults in their 20s and 30s.
So I had theatre at the forefront of my goals into adulthood and I learned very early on what I wanted to do with my life: I had a career in Hollywood in mind!
Daria in Los Angeles, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, during fashion event for charity
I saw Fellini’s “La Strada” when I was about nine years old and that solidified my desire to create something similar, just as powerful, just as impressive… I knew then that I would go into film, I didn’t know how, where, when, but I knew it!
When I was 11 years old, my parents enrolled me in the Art High School, where I stayed until I graduated and, soon after, I immigrated to Canada. Those years of study and artistic creation proved to be incredibly helpful in my film career.
In that time, when we needed visas to travel, even visiting another country was arduous, moving to another continent back then was incredibly difficult. The fact that I already knew what I wanted to do helped, because I focused directly on my goal and didn’t wait a moment. After a few months I had already enrolled in the International Film Workshops that Bruno was teaching and immediately after completing the Workshops, I started working for Bruno’s company, Toronto Pictures.
Students participating at the International Film Workshops taught by Bruno Pischiutta
Tell us about your films and documentaries. What is their subject matter and who are they aimed for?
As Bruno mentioned earlier, I travelled all over the world to attend various film festivals. I’ve been to Cannes, the American Film Market, Montreal and Monte Carlo several times. I traveled for business to cities like London, Los Angeles and New York. By 2004 I was already working as a producer on the pre-production of “Punctured Hope” and I had been to Ghana several times where, in 2005, we shot the film.
Bruno and Daria (center) with friends at the Cannes Film Festival; photo by Getty Images
Bruno and I founded Global Film Studio in 2011. It’s a Canadian media company, a “small media empire”, running six divisions: Film Production, Film Distribution (Global Cinema Online), Talent Agency (Global Actors Service), Film Festival (Global Nonviolent Film Festival), Publishing (Daria! Magazine) and Film Academy (film schools and workshops). The foundation of the company is, in fact, the result of a lifetime of film work by Bruno Pischiutta whose career, as you can see, spans more than five decades.
In many respects, Global Film Studio operates similarly to the Hollywood Studios of the 1950s and like United Artists, founded by Charlie Chaplin. The films we produce are always non-violent and have a high social content.
Bruno and Daria on the set of their film “Punctured Hope” (2009) in Ghana, Africa
Our film, “Punctured Hope”, directed and co-written by Bruno and produced by the two of us, qualified for an Academy Awards nomination and was nominated for Best Film Expose and Best Film on Human Rights by the Political Film Society in Hollywood the same year when the other nominated films were by Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino and James Cameron.
You have your own magazine, DARIA!, tell us about your activity in this field?
I am the editor-in-chief of DARIA! magazine, which we founded and first published in 2005. Originally distributed in print with a laminated version, it was distributed for 10 years in thousands of copies at high-end events, luxury clubs, hotels and film festivals worldwide. It was distributed during private events in Monte Carlo, New York, Toronto, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Brasov, Las Vegas and Cannes. Since 2012, the magazine is the official media partner and is providing full coverage of the Global Nonviolent Film Festival. In 2022, it became an online publication, available at DariaMagazine.com
Some of the articles I have written are published in DARIA!. I have also published countless articles on major social networks, such as LinkedIn, and countless press releases.
Give us more information about your activity in the field of production and direction alongside Bruno Pischiutta.
In 2015 I wrote an original story and a treatment for a film. The treatment was developed by Bruno into a film script. The film is part of Global Film Studio’s slate and is currently in development for production.
Some of my other film credits include: assistant director on the feature film “Maybe”, which was an Official Selection at the Bahamas One World Film Festival and received The Visionary In Film Award for director Bruno Pischiutta; producer and executive producer of the documentary “Bruno Pischiutta Film Director”; and executive producer of the English versions of the feature films “The Comoedia” and “Ultimo incontro a Venezia”, directed by Pischiutta.
In 2012, I produced the feature documentary “Brasov: Probably the Best City in the World”. The documentary was directed by Bruno and shot over 12 months to show the city in all four seasons.
Spanish poster of “Brasov: Probably the Best City in the World”
We were the guests of honor at the Semana de Cine Rumano in Havana, Cuba, invited by the Romanian Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Cuba, Dr. Dumitru Preda. The world premiere screening of the documentary was attended by the country’s leading media and film personalities and was followed by a press conference.
In 2013 I produced a 24-minute documentary “Brasov International Film Festival & Market”. The documentary was released in 2014 in Brasov and online.
These documentaries are all about subjects I know very well: about my mentor Bruno Pischiutta, about Brasov, the city I was born in, and about the Film Festival I founded and have been running since 2012.
What is your participation in “The Trilogy”?
In our upcoming film project there will be two new roles for me: for the first time I will play an important part as an actress in a feature film and I will direct the three documentaries that will accompany the films.
The documentaries will be entitled “The Making of…” and will be of interest to people who have already watched the films. They will consist mainly of interviews with the main actors and behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the films. In fact, when we shoot “The Trilogy” there will be two different crews on set: one crew will shoot the actual films and the other crew (my crew) will shoot details from the set so you can then see how the films were made.
We would be very interested to hear about the Global Nonviolent Film Festival.
As we speak, (the interview took place in October) the 12th annual edition of the Global Nonviolent Film Festival is taking place on our streaming channel at GlobalCinema.online. This year, we are featuring 36 films competing from 15 countries! Anyone from around the world can watch the Festival by going to the platform.
Bruno and I founded the Global Nonviolent Film Festival in 2012 because we wanted to showcase films that do not contain gratuitous violence and we wanted to create a space for films that inspire and uplift audiences by entertaining them. In other words, we also wanted to prove that it is not necessary for a film to contain gratuitous violence to succeed.
Daria and Bruno featured presenting the Global Nonviolent Film Festival on Thomson-Reuters giant screen in Times Square, New York City
In the first two years we screened and awarded films featuring Woody Allen, Robert Redford, Nicole Kidman and many other stars. Over time, however, we began to receive a flood of films from independent filmmakers from all parts of the world who wanted to enter the space we offered for nonviolent filmmaking and who to this day show us exceptional talent and creativity!
Today, as we hold our 12th successful annual edition, I can proudly say that the Global Nonviolent Film Festival is the most important and renowned non-violent film festival in the world!
Two years ago, our company launched GlobalCinema.online which distributes non-violent films and documentaries around the world. Its creation came naturally because we have always known that the main reason films go to festivals is so that distributors have the opportunity to see them and select them.
In 2021, during COVID, we had time to invest in the establishment of this streaming channel. Today we already have more than 220 films streamed to a global audience and we are adding new titles every week. We are now able to offer distribution contracts – on very favorable terms – to all selected films at our festival once the event is over. It’s a win-win situation for everyone: our company, the filmmakers and the audience.
What is Daria Trifu’s biggest ambition after “The Trilogy”?
I am looking forward to the near future. Doing “The Trilogy” with Bruno will be a unique experience, since for the first time I will be acting in a major film, the one we will shoot in Greece, and I will also make my directorial debut with the three documentaries.
When the films will be released, a huge multi-million dollar campaign will take place: the campaign will promote the films and, at the same time, the channel where the films can be viewed, GlobalCinema.online! I hope that by then the channel will have a huge exposure and attract the interest of many viewers towards non-violent cinema.
Finally, one question I would like you both Bruno and Daria to answer: what would you like to say to the followers and readers of Kulturosupa about Theatre and Cinema? How do you think the arts improve human relations?
Bruno: My recommendation is not to underestimate the cathartic function of art, and try to use the time spent watching films on screen as part of an artistic quest.
Cinema is a multifaceted phenomenon. Information and entertainment are undoubtedly two of its main functions, but if we can watch artistic films we will improve our ability to interpret reality and open up new horizons.
Daria: I know that many young artists and intellectuals in Greece feel somewhat restricted and often think of moving to distant big cities like London and New York.
Certainly traveling and seeing distant cities when possible gives us the opportunity to make discoveries and experience places in a direct way. Today, however, the internet allows us to see a lot and be present and make connections even in faraway locations.
With a computer and a telephone today it is possible to connect with the whole world, and this reality should not be overlooked because it allows us to make our spiritual contribution and our Art known not only in the place where we were born but also in the world as a whole!
The interview time passed very quickly and pleasantly. Observing the comfort and the positive aura that these two people were giving off towards me, I thought how important it is to interact and chat with such a wide range of people, those who observe, record, talk, process, select all this material — especially subjects on issues that concern modern man — and transform it into the highest form of art that is awarded with world-wide distinction and prizes.
In bidding them farewell Bruno shows me a plant on the balcony of their cottage. “This plant, he tells me, waits all year long to bloom and manages to do so for just one day and one night, but the sight of the flower springing from the foliage is unique!!!”. Daria has captured it and shows it to me on her tablet. This plant, my godmother gave it to them from our village garden, I think, and this sense of a rare and one-day flowering surprises and amazes us. So is Art, Bruno and Daria, as we watch your films for the first time, they manage to blossom in us and to make us reminisce, reflect and think about them constantly, something similar to what this little flower in its pot patiently but courageously achieves on your balcony…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Journalist Eleni Giannakidou was born and raised in Veria, a small town in Northern Greece with a rich history and archaeological interest. She graduated from the Department of History and Archeology at the Philosophy School of the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and she works as a Philologist at a secondary school.
Journalist Eleni Giannakidou
Eleni’s love for travel and history led her to travel a lot, to meet the locals and record their customs and manners. At the same time, her amateur involvement in music and theater brought her to become a performer in a theater group that puts on shows in Thessaloniki while she also coordinates programs and cultural activities with her students.
Eleni writes articles for the popular arts and culture magazine Kulturosupa where she has her own travel column called “My travel trail”. She writes reviews for plays that are staged in theaters in Thessaloniki, for concerts and for various cultural events.
Eleni Giannakidou is married to her college sweetheart, Jean, and they have four children! Her greatest wish is to be able to travel around the world with her family, and to get to know other cultures, other places and the way of living of different people.