Italian producer Domenico Procacci, after shepherding more than 100 movies and several TV series, including Netflix’s upcoming Elena Ferrante adaptation “The Lying Life of Adults,”He is debuting as director via Fandango, with six-part documentary series “The Team.” Variety Procacci speaks exclusively to him about his motivation to get behind the camera. Procacci also debuts the English-language subtitled trailer.
The project is a deeply researched reconstruction of the complex – and sometimes comical – dynamics behind the Italian tennis team that won the 1976 Davis Cup and reached the finals for this trophy three other times between 1976 and 1980.
In “The Team,” which is being presented as a work-in-progress at the Torino Film Festival, the protagonists are the team’s players, Adriano Panatta, Corrado Barazzutti, Paolo Bertolucci, Tonino Zugarelli, and its captain, Italian tennis legend Nicola Pietrangeli. It’s a story of It also includes a detailed look at professional tennis in the 1970s as well as Italian society at the time when politics and tennis interacted, and clashed.
For “The Team,” which is being sold by Fandango Sales and has been acquired by Sky for Italy, Procacci also interviewed several international 1970s tennis pros, such as Chile’s Jaime Fillol, and is planning to interview other big names including Björn Borg, Ilie Nastase, and Australia’s John Alexander and Tony Roche, who will broaden the show’s international scope.
During this time, the Torino will be attended by the Italian 1976 Davis Cup team and its captain “Team”The work-in progress premieres Sunday as Turin hosts both the ATP Finals, and the 2021 Davis Cup tournaments.
Below are extracts from Procacci’s conversation.
Why did you decide to direct after having produced more than 100 films? I know that you are passionate about tennis.
Yes. Because I enjoy tennis and watching live tournaments, I have met many members of this team. Panatta, Barazzutti and I met on the sidelines and became very curious about them. They always say, ‘It’s better not to meet your icons,’ and my generation grew up with the myth of that team. However, I found that my respect for them increased when they met me; they became much more real to me. It was my idea to tell their stories and show how the vicissitudes experienced by this team over the span of the 1970s.
This narrative is filled with fast-cut counterpoints between the protagonists. It’s really fun. This is how you pictured the story.
Yes. However, tTo be completely honest, I didn’t actually direct. It’s not like directing a movie. I interviewed the main characters. I had an idea for how the narratives could be woven together and we followed that path. Editing was a huge part of the process. [done by Giogiò Franchini (“The Consequences of Love”)]We had a lot of archive material. I was able to gather a lot of archive materials, so the interviews were easy. I would share with them the words of other team members or the stories in books. This allowed me to offer multiple points of view, which can sometimes be very funny. It’s actually, at its core, an Italian comedy. These four actors are essentially archetypes of Italian comedy. Panatta is Vittorio Gassman; Bertolucci is Ugo Tognazzi; Zugarelli is Nino Manfredi and Barazzutti is Stefano Satta Flores.
Also, there’s the political component. In 1976, there was so many leftist protests against Italy playing in Chile’s final. Chile at that time was ruled brutally by Augusto Pinochet.
Yes, it is. Very interesting because of the aspect that involves politics interfering with sports. It was clear that I couldn’t rely on that and the series needed to have a wider arch. With a wider arch, I thought the series could be used as a prism to show the game of tennis and the sociopolitical aspects that Italy has experienced in those years.
What are you left to do?
Interviews and some editing of archive materials. It will likely be finished by March, and it will air on Sky Italy in May.