Our Last (or Il Nostro Ultimo) tells the story of two brothers seeking to fulfill their mother’s last wish. However, driving from Rome to Sicily for a final family vacation presents challenges for the pair (Fabrizio Colica and Guglielmo Poggi) because their mother has already passed away. Ludovico Di Martino, the director, is looking forward to screening this drama next week in Los Angeles at the Starring Europe Film Festival. Our Last has already won several awards, including the distinction of “Best Film” at the Ferrara Film Festival in 2016.
Is this your first feature film?
I’m very young. I’m 24. It’s my first feature film!
Who are your influences as a filmmaker?
I began to watch movies when I started my career as a director. I’ve got a few favorite directors. In Italy, my idol is Paolo Sorrentino. He won an Oscar 3 years ago. One American director that I love is Paul Thomas Anderson.
How did you get the idea for the script?
It came from a short movie that I did three or four years ago. I [bought] a coffin and I had it in my house. I had to write a screenplay about an “on the road” movie for a contest here in Rome. I took the coffin and I thought of a story of two brothers that tied the coffin on the car’s roof.
Did anything unexpected happen during the filming?
Really, I think the answer is: everything! [laughs] We were very low, low budget. Everyday something happened and we had a lot of problems. I had to change everyday on all the scenes. Actors didn’t come. Or there [was] sun today but tomorrow we have to leave so we had to make three scenes in three hours. The film also changed when I was editing. It was a continuous improvisation.
The strangest thing was that when we were around Italy with this car and the coffin on it, a lot of people took photos of it. One day, like 20-30 national newspapers were talking about the car with a coffin on it. It was funny that all the radios and newspapers talked about that. It was free publicity.
How many days did you spend filming outside?
We shot for five weeks. We shot two weeks here in Rome and three weeks in the south of Italy, going from the Amalfi Coast to Sicily.
How did you approach the camera work?
As I told you, it was improvisation. I was the camera operator for the movie. You can see the point of view is very high because I am almost two meters in height. All of the shots are very close to the actors. When you make a movie on a low budget, you’ve got only the actors. You don’t have the money to build a set design or do lights. I did the film just working on the actors, thinking of them as the most important thing that I had.
We did a lot with exercises and spent a lot of time together. At all the shoots, I always thought that I was the “third actor” with them, not the director. I tried to become the filter between the characters and the audience physically.
What do you want your audience to take away from the themes you explored in the film?
I have a younger brother. We have a one-year difference [in age]. My family comes from near Amalfi by Naples in the south. To me, family memories are important. The family is not only your father, mother, and brother. The family is the family of your father and the family of your mother. Your life depends on these stories.
Here in Rome, a lot of people don’t give the right importance to the family story. In the movie, the two brothers are in Rome, but the family is from the south. That was useful for telling a story about the importance of the past and looking to the future. If your mother dies, you have to go and use your mother’s death to build something new: with the elements that your family can give to you and without thinking that you are alone and nobody understands you. It’s important now. You can’t wait.