Franco Piavoli

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Who is Franco Piavoli


Franco Piavoli is one of the best directors of all time in the independent film and documentary industry. He was born in Pozzolengo in the province of Brescia, in 1933. He attended classical high school and graduated in law in Pavia in 1956. He completed his training dedicating himself to the study of botany and ecology. Then he became passionate about painting and photography, and confronted with the young local photographer Ugo Mulas.

Franco Piavoli graduated and became a lawyer, then a teacher of law and economics in high schools. He follows his passions with tenacity: a life and a poetics matured in close contact with the territory of origin, the beautiful province of Brescia, the amphitheater of the morainic hills, a constant source of inspiration.

The First Films of Franco Piavoli

After the first experimental films of which no trace remains, he made short films in amateur format of the 60s: The seasons, Domenica sera, Emigranti, Evasi, were awarded in numerous reviews and let us glimpse the vision of the author’s world and a sure command of the cinematographic medium.

The Blue Planet

At the end of the 70s Silvano Agosti decides to personally produce his first feature film for Franco Piavoli, The Blue Planet. Successfully presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Helped by his wife Neria, Piavoli returns to work after a long break according to the secluded dimension he prefers. For Franco piavoli traditional narration does not exist, his is a poetic and lyrical cinema, a score that enhances the natural processes of creation by adopting an overturning of the traditional space-time hierarchies, in which the attention to the rhythms of nature counts more than any usual representative convention.

Subsequent Films

In the mid-80s he was director of operas produced by Rai. The Mincio Park tells of the painful degradation of the polluted river and offended by human neglect. In Nostos – the return, the myth of Ulysses merges with the themes of research and understanding of the origins of man, using the expressive power of images and sound. The dialogues in the film are inspired by sounds of ancient Mediterranean languages.

The story of the subsequent Voices in Time, set in Castellaro Lagusello and in the most familiar places to the author, marks the flow of age and seasons trying to avoid lyricism and static and manner. The film At the first breath of wind and a painful reflection on the anxieties of the human condition.

In 2004 he made an inspired medium-film dedicated to his friend the poet Mantovano, Umberto Bellintani length, portrayed starting from the intense correspondence with Alessandro Parronchi.

The Style of Franco Piavoli

‘s cinema Franco Piavoli’s cinema is a cinema of relationships. The principle of causality dominates the author’s whole vision. Contemplation and discovery of the laws that seem to govern the world seem to be the director’s main interests, which coincide with a profoundly ethical vision of art in the ancient tradition

In Franco Piavoli’s cinema every vital element acquires value in our eyes thanks to the correspondences it entertains from time to time with what it comes into direct contact with, in an evolutionary path that from birth leads to death , as in The Blue Planet.

With a past without history whose archetypal traces are in the depths of the human being and continue to work in it, as in Nostos. With the different phases of the existential parable as in Voices in time. According to vital trajectories that mark cyclicality as the privileged form of a poetic indebted to the lessons of Leopardi, Lucretius, Hesiod, Homer.

With thoughts that arise during the hours of an August Sunday in the countryside, a sacred silence interrupted only by considerations on the loneliness and on modernity and its failures, as in the film At the first breath of wind. Nature and man are the harmonic elements, the thirst for knowledge the real protagonist on which the emotional tones of the universe of the long film which is the entire work of Franco Piavoli are articulated.

Pervaded by a earthly transcendence and concrete, immersed in matter, which is the only true transcendence possible, Franco Piavoli’s gaze embraces small worlds, observed with the curiosity of an entomologist.

It magnifies and creates synaesthetic tensions with a very rich and fascinating audiovisual score, based on the enhancement of sound and on classic and linear visual structures, at the service of a lyrical and conscious Humanism. From the first sketches to the works of maturity, the boundary line and the reconciliation between nature and artifice.

In Franco Piavoli’s eyes, aenough small change is to win the eye of his camera. Or perhaps we could define it as a huge change: the blinking of a man’s eyelashes, the evening coming, the clouds filling the sky, the distant bark of a dog, a simple breath. A capacity for perception and gratitude for the things of the world that most of us have lost. 

Franco Piavoli’s Egg

By Massimiliano Perrotta

By dint of re-evaluating Series B films, cinema has become – on a cultural level – a Series B art. While we amused ourselves with the unshocked comedies or the fist fights revered by Quentin Tarantino, rigorous masters such as Béla Tarr or Jean-Luc Godard entered the shadows.


Even once-famous authors such as Wim Wenders are struggling to get out in cinemas. Even more lateral is the independent Italian cinema, despite boasting an absolute master, Franco Piavoli, author of a few feature films but all series a, unfortunately.

His masterpieces are The blue planet, a contemplative poem on the terrible beauty of nature, and Voices in time, a fresco on the seasons of the year and life. What is the magic of these films substantiated? With an apparently naive look but really dramatic, prehensile, able to reveal and correlate.


Of 2016 is Feast, presented in Locarno and today visible in streaming on Indiecinema, the channel created by director Fabio Del Greco and entirely dedicated to independent cinema. Feast is a medium-length film made up of thoughtful faces, suspended moments, old dancing couples, small meaningful gestures to tell the Italian province with joy and melancholy. With poetry. Serie a cinema, unfortunately.


Watch Feast

Franco Piavoli has always lived in Pozzolengo, a village in the hinterland of northern Italy near Lake Garda. He was a teacher and a documentary maker for passion, when he was discovered by the independent director Silvano Agosti, who encouraged him to make feature films and produced “The blue planet”.

I remember a lunch a few years ago at Piavoli’s house, with pumpkin ravioli and mustard. His beloved wife Neria Poli, an existential and creative point of reference for him (as assistant director), had recently passed away.

For coffee we were joined by a friend of his who proposed – for the upcoming Easter holiday – to go with other friends to a distant exotic location at the time. Piavoli declined the invitation because he couldn’t miss the egg ritual.

He explained to us that it was his tradition, on Easter Monday, to wake up at dawn, walk to the neighboring village and eat a freshly laid egg on the farm. An egg is enough for Franco Piavoli to read the world.

Massimiliano Perrotta

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