Director Silvio Nacucchi talks about his strange gay parenting tale
Strong acting abounds in “Beyond Love,” a seemingly bizarre Italian drama newly out on DVD. The film tells the story of Anna and Marina, a lesbian couple who want to be moms. Surrogacy is expensive in Italy, far beyond the reach of these middle class women.
Marina confides her frustration to Stefano, her best friend since childhood. Stefano decides to help in a most unusual way: he secretly turns to prostitution in order to raise the funds that Anna and Marina need. He endures abuse from several clients who are into S&M, screaming in anguish while he keeps his eye on the prize. Of course his boyfriend is enraged when he finds out what Stefano has been up to.
One of the most appealing aspects of “Beyond Love” is the friendship between Marina and Stefano. It's unusual, in film or in life, to see a gay man and a lesbian enjoying such a deep bond. It wasn't too long ago, after all, that the Gs and the Ls existed as two separate communities with little interest in interacting.
The love and the trust that Anna and Stefano feel for each other runs deep. They confide in each other, often revealing things they wouldn't share with their spouses. It's a lovely thing to see.
“Beyond Love” is populated by characters who we would think should know better than to do the foolish things they do. Time and time again, Stefano meets with clients who he knows are going to hurt him. In one particularly disturbing scene he's raped by a nightstick while tied to a bed--he screams out in pain, yet continues to meet with the unsavory clients who contact him online.
Stefano and Marina also sleep together one night.
Marina's partner Anna isn't much better. A fledgling artist, she meets privately with a lecherous straight male art gallery owner whose motives are questionable. Yet she returns for a second meeting.
Some viewers may wonder why the “Beyond Love” characters make such reckless choices. Silvio Nacucchi, the film's director, addressed this question. The filmmaker spoke to SFGN from his home in Italy.
"The message of “Beyond Love” is that there are no limits to what you are ready to do when you really love someone," Nacucchi said.
The auteur, who is straight, spoke to many gay men and lesbians as he developed the film's story and wrote the script.
"I did my best to get to know their mindsets, their attitudes, how they live their lives, and love," he said. "I took it upon myself to learn more about gay and lesbian relationships, as well as those between gays and lesbians."
He pointed out that some of the film's situations were inspired by real life. "Some of the described behaviors might actually seem reckless," he said. "There are no insurmountable odds when you really love someone. Sometimes people even cancel themselves out and infringe on their own principles."
The film points to some of the obstacles that LGBT people in Italy face. "In Italy, which claims to be a civil country, LGBT people are not entitled to marry and have children," said Nacucchi. "They are citizens like all others, hence with feelings, emotional needs, and the desire to have a family."
Nacuchhi said that many people who've seen the film felt a strong emotional involvement with it, regardless of whether they were gay or straight.
"True life stories make a character credible and alive," he said. "The audience has immediately perceived this, forgetting that the characters are gay or lesbian."
As our chat drew to a close, Nacucchi expressed his hope for what the impact of “Beyond Love” might be. "The film aims to let the whole world learn about this discrimination we have in Italy," he said. "I hope that this is all going to end as soon as possible."
“Beyond Love” is now available on DVD and is spoken in Italian with English titles.