December 23, 2014 | Rome, Italy | Clear 6°C

Sarah Marder

By Cristina Polli
Published: 2011-12-06

Would you have ever embarked on a Mayes-like project?

I can only speak for myself. I moved to Milan to marry Filippo at age 23 and have spent my adult life wrestling with the complexities of a cross-cultural marriage, working in a foreign country and raising four children in a way that often baffles Italians. I once wrote an unpublished manuscript called "An Italian Husband." Writing it helped me digest some of the quirky or irksome aspects of living in this beautiful but Byzantine land.

How open-minded are Cortona's residents, culturally and racially? It's one thing to invite Westerners, Europeans and Americans, another to really be open to all visitors regardless of race, color or creed. Do you see a line in the sand in that regard?

How open-minded is anyone? Most people prefer to be surrounded by people similar to themselves. That's human nature. The advent of mass transportation makes movement easy, leading to far more intermingling of cultures than imaginable in the past. Some people enjoy this intermingling more than others. I wouldn't want to generalize about Cortona or anywhere else.

On a personal level, do you remember your own first impressions of Italy? If so, what's changed the most in your thinking?

The first year I lived here I thought I'd go crazy. I remember as a newlywed telling my husband he should "write his senator" about something I considered scandalous. When he replied that he didn't even know who his senator was, I realized there was no mechanism for even attempting to get things fixed here. Over the years I've probably grown jaundiced; it's much harder to scandalize me now.

What's been the biggest challenge in making the movie into a reality and what advice would you give to people trying to raise funds for Italy-related projects?

Making a feature-length film is perhaps one of the most complex creative projects you can undertake. The challenges are too numerous to name. You'll usually need three years or more to bring the idea to fruition. You need talent. You also need to know how to raise a fair amount of money. Without intrinsic motivation, it's not possible. This is especially true for independent productions in which there's a mind-boggling amount of work and you spend your own money on production expenses without knowing if you'll ever find the funding to cover your costs.

I'm not in a position to give advice about trying to raise funds in Italy. It must always be tough and now even more so, given Italy's financial straits. Also, independent film is far less developed here than in other countries so the rare crew adventurous enough to make the attempt will need to be resourceful.

In our case, to jumpstart our fundraising efforts, we decided to look outside of Italy by creating a crowd-funding campaign, seeking private contributions from anyone would like to support our work. We gladly accept donations starting at $10 and they're tax deductible in the United States. We're already getting a nice response from the public and hope even more people will decide to take the plunge and make a contribution to help us move the film towards completion.

— Marder and her team have produced an information site documentary trailer (with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Hopkins), a website, and also have a Facebook page.

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