Valerio Ferrara, La Cinef 2022 1st prize © Maxence Parey

Meet Valerio Ferrara, La Cinef 2022 first prize winner

Fresh out of the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Valerio Ferrara graduated straight from film school to the red carpet. Winning first prize at La Cinef in 2022, his short A Conspiracy Man is a humorous take on conspiracy theories – according to the young Italian director, although the genre is underrepresented in awards, “comedy is serious”. In this brief interview, he discusses his time in Cannes, and how the experience has changed his life. 

How did you react when you won your award at the Festival de Cannes? 

At first, when I received the prize, I didn’t realise what was happening. I was shocked and a bit confused (I also stumbled down the stairs…). And then my mind caught up. I had never expected to win first prize. My short film is a comedy and usually this genre isn’t taken as seriously, it’s seen as less valuable than others. But for me, comedy is serious. Il Barbiere Complottista (A Conspiracy Man) tells the tale of an everyday man who gets arrested due to a case of mistaken identity, and falls into a vortex of conspiracy theories. We imagined what was going on in his brain and heart: his paranoia, his anxieties, his loneliness… But naturally, we had fun writing and filming this story. And this prize embodies the efforts of everyone who worked on it.  


What has your award brought you? / What did it change for you?  

This was a turning point for me. I had just graduated from film school, and I was about to start work as an assistant. And then when the Festival de Cannes’ selection and the award were announced, everything changed. It fuelled my inner strength and imagination. When I got back to Rome, I immediately began writing a feature film with my screenwriters. The experience got me where I am today.  


What are your best memories of Cannes?  

I have several magical memories: listening to Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals at sunset, the first time I met all the other La Cinef directors from around the world. In particular, I remember the moment when we looked into each other’s eyes and understood that nobody could quite believe what was happening. And of course, the award ceremony will forever remain in my mind’s eye: my team sitting next to me and the celebrations that followed. 

Do you have new projects? 

The feature film we wrote upon returning from Cannes is now in development. Many of the people who worked on my short film will be working with me again, and I really want it to be a platform for helping young people to get started. And of course, there will be many more conspiracy theories… 


The video interview:


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