With screen goddess Sophia Loren as his mother and legendary film producer Carlo Ponti (La Strada, Doctor Zhivago, Blow Up…) as his father, it comes as no surprise that cinema is deeply imprinted in Edoardo Ponti’s DNA. The director, whose previous film Between Strangers featured his mother and Gérard Depardieu, was in London on the 15th of November for the premiere of Away We Stay, his new short film, which he presented at the Electric cinema in Notting Hill. Commissioned by luxury hotel W London, due to open in 2011, this atmospheric short is inspired by iconic Swinging London classic Blow Up and stars top models Helena Christensen and David Gandy. Chic-Londres caught up with Edoardo Ponti at the glitzy party, which was attended by Scream’s star Neve Campbell, Pirates of the Caribbean‘s actor Tom Hollander, fashion designers Alice Temperley and Melissa Odabash and many more.
Away We Stay celebrates London: what is your relationship with this city? I have always thought of London as a very romantic city. I was raised by a father who was a complete anglophile and that has been an obvious influence. Everything feels romantic in London, from the weather to the mews, and I have this feeling that love stories can emerge from this place. So I was very pleased to be offered the chance to film here by W.
In which way were you inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic?First of all, the essence of Away We Stay is drawn from the premises of Blow Up, which starts with a photographer taking a picture of a complete stranger. I had the idea to switch the gender, which puts a modern twist to the story, with the photographer now played by Helena Christensen and the Vanessa Redgrave character played by a man. The use of a muted colours palette as well as the height of the camera, below the eyes, is also inspired by Antonioni’s cinematography.
Have you always known you would follow your parents’ path and work in movies? I always knew, even as a small child, that I would tell stories, either as an actor or as a director, because I have always been fascinated by people and by their life’s journey. For me, cinema is a way to reflect on who we are as persons, where we are going and why.
How was it as a child to be the son of a screen legend, and then to direct your mother in Between Strangers? It was as natural as can be, if only because I never knew anything different. But clearly, the important thing is that my parents’ priority has always been their family, and that they managed to give us a very normal upbringing. Directing my mother was actually amazing, but much harder for her than for me- I know her so well that I would always push her performance further.
What did you learn from your parents? From my father, I learnt that a movie has to align itself with the specific zeitgeist of its time, in order to relate to people who watch it and to activate their conscience. From my mother, I learnt that the most important thing in a film comes from the stories it tells and the way it is made, not from the red carpet and the illusions and mirages of the film industry. Both of them have built their lives around honesty and hard work and have always shown enormous integrity- when it came to their career, the emphasis was on the work itself, never about the celebrity factor or the glamour…
The Away We Stay party at The Electric: Helena Christensen, David Gandy and Tuuli Shipster (top), Alice Temperley, Neve Campbell, Tim Wade (below)