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Giovanna Mezzogiorno (ph. Giovanni Chieregato)

text Teresa Favi - photo Gianmarco Chieregato

September 27, 2023

Our interview with Giovanna Mezzogiorno

The well-known actress talks about Unfitting, her directing and scriptwriting debut with a focus on body shaming

There may be an element of autobiography in the short film that marks Giovanna Mezzogiorno’s debut as a writer and director, but that’s not the point. The thing is, there’s a structural problem that’s caused by modern life and is hard to tackle and also to address publicly. It’s the phenomenon known as body shaming, and its victims are often and especially women. Can it be challenged? Yes, like any negative action that discriminates against someone, but only by breaking the code of silence.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno sul set di UNFITTING

Born of an idea dreamed up by the editor of Grazia magazine Silvia Grilli, Unfitting is the story of an actress who’s rejected because her physical appearance doesn’t fit the aesthetic canons. Without unnecessary fuss, the short film tackles the issue of prejudice towards the bodies and ages of women in the film industry. It’s produced by Manuela Cacciamani of One More Pictures and strongly endorsed by Grazia. The main sponsor is Bulgari, a long-time supporter of female inclusion and empowerment.


“The exhausting and complicated daily struggle of many women in their personal, professional and psychological lives is an irrefutable fact of our age; women are born and grow up in an ‘aesthetic dictatorship’, subject to constant merciless criticism that undermines their confidence and self-esteem”, explains the rigorous, serene and multi-award-winning actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Loved by the film and theatre world of Italy and the world, the daughter of  well-known actors Vittorio Mezzogiorno and Cecilia Sacchi was born in Rome and grew up in Paris and Milan. “Unfitting takes an ironic and un-self-pitying look at all that, without compromising or hiding uncomfortable truths. In a short time, I’ve attempted to convey the difficulty, but also the enormous importance, of fighting against the controlling system and the criteria it imposes”, continues Giovanna, who years ago took the bold decision to interrupt her brilliant career to bring up her two twin boys, now aged twelve; a decision rewarded by the discovery of enormous inner strength that has exploded in the films made since her return, like Naples in Veils by Ferzan Özpetek (2017), which marked her impressive movie relaunch.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno – Stefano Accorsi L'Ultimo Bacio 2001 (ph. Stefano Montesi, Photomovie)

This extraordinary human and artistic output is now joined by the new short, which premiered at the Rome International Film Festival. The protagonist of Unfitting is Giovanna (played by Carolina Crescentini), who suffers constant low-level cruelty by the fictional director (brilliantly played by Ambra Angiolini), producer (Fabio Volo) and press agent (Marco Bonini), with only one voice raised in her defence, that of a young actor played by Massimiliano Caiazzo, one of the best-loved emerging faces in Italian film. Giovanna’s agent is played by Moira Mazzantini (one of Italy’s top talent agents and the sister of Margaret, a well-known writer and wife of Sergio Castellitto, ed.) as herself. We should bear in mind that the link between the female body and its societal representation is as old as time: from corsets that crush the waist to the quest for eternal youth, body image has driven rules and expectations, assumptions and demands on women. “In this sense”, Giovanna Mezzogiorno concludes, “each individual’s cultural and educational   background is fundamental, which is why I highlight the importance of memories and deep, intimate conditioning as tools to combat the ferocity and aggressiveness of the outside world”.

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