Venezia 75: Vanessa Redgrave speaks about immigration

Shot da Un tranquillo posto di campagna (1968), di Elio Petri, nel quale Vanessa Redgrave interpretava il ruolo di protagonista

Vanessa Redgrave will be awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award in the 75th edition of Biennale del Cinema, yet her interview in the conference room focused on immigration and her childhood years.

Recently she directed a documentary, Sea Sorrow, trying to shake people’s consciousness on the painful theme of refugees. Sadly she reported how limited the affluence to the cinemas was: “In Milan they watched it more than in Rome, I really wonder why” she said in fluent italian, without the faintest shade of sarcasm.

Refugees’ cause is something she truly relates to: her childhood years were marked by the conflict. She felt “shipwrecked” on an island far away from her home and family, yet her effort goes back to those years, she says “since I was a kid I understood that I wanted to help. I would wear my rubber boots, my helmet and hold a stick as a rifle”. WWII years were certainly tough, even more on a kid – she addressed to her generation as “war-children”: who, better than she, would be able to empathically understand the pain refugees have been enduring? “Governments have lost the sense of reality” she added.

Her interview was less focused on her career and more on her story, which so clearly connects to the narrative of evacuated people. Nevertheless she gave a glimpse on how she got introduced to acting: “My cousin loved theatre; he had a paper-cut model of a stage with moving figures. When he was six he wrote a play for me. We wanted to collect money for the Royal Merchant Navy, so we would have people pay to watch us. I forgot what I was supposed to say, so my cousin said ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Vanessa has ruined everything. That’s how my first performance went.”

On the prize she refused, many decades ago, she said “I love facts. I didn’t refuse an honour from the Queen, I refused it from Blair: the man who took our country on war on a lie”.

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