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An Interview with Davide Melini, Director of The Sweet Hand of the White Rose and The Puzzle

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2012

Films directed by Davide Melini on (re)Search my Trash


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Your short The Sweet Hand of the White Rose - in a few words, what is it about?


The idea was do talk about street accidents and trying to analyze the driver's behaviour.


For me, The Sweet Hand of the White Rose had all the ingredients of an effective ghost story (though strictly speaking, it isn't). A comment you can live with, and would you at all like to elaborate?


It’s impossible to label it under just one specific genre, because this short contains many genres: drama, fantasy, horror… It’s sweet and scary at the same time, real and fantastic, clean and dark, soft and rough, dream and nightmare… It’s a very elaborate film.


Other sources of inspiration for The Sweet Hand of the White Rose?


This is a difficult question. I don’t know exactly when and why I write a screenplay. I don’t wake up in the morning and I think about writing, because if I do that, the story isn’t good. I have to feel free and my mind has to fly. The inspiration comes to me on its own and enters in my brain like a small flame. Day by day I feel the flame growing stronger, until it’s impossible to keep it inside me. And this is the moment when I’m ready to write.


The PSA-like ending of The Sweet Hand of the White Rose. How, when and why did that come into being?


Usually, in this kind of movie the most common plot is that the kid takes the revenge for her murder. But I didn’t want to be “classic” and so I tried to tell something different. The murderer has the time to realize and understand the wrong he has done. And at this moment the kid's hand reaches for him. The “White Rose” is calling him. She’s ready to forgive him.


I think the chapel and graveyard used in The Sweet Hand of the White Rose contribute greatly to the film's atmosphere. Were these studio-built or actual places, and what can you tell us about these sets/locations?


It was a real chapel, situated in the Monumental Cemetery of San Sebastián, located in Casabermeja, the purest and most beautiful cemetery in Málaga. We shot most of the short in there.


Your short The Puzzle - again, what's that one about?


It’s about a woman who refuses to give money to her son and afterwards decides to relax with her favorite pastime – doing puzzles. But in one of them there’s something wrong…


You use a puzzle as the key metaphor in your film. Would you like to elaborate on that, and do you have any real-life connections to puzzles?


The puzzle, for me, means “the fate”. Everyone of us makes puzzles in our lives. We can try to fit them the way we want, but there will be always a piece that doesn’t fit.


Again, other sources of inspiration for The Puzzle?


Like I said before, I don’t know how to explain why I write one story instead of another. All depends on my mind.


Both The Puzzle and The Sweet Hand of the White Rose are extremely atmospheric films. So how would you describe your directorial approach?


I can say I live every film in different ways. For The Puzzle I had just one night to shoot. What could I do in one day? Not too much. So I focused on the visual aspect (camera, light, editing, music, sound). 

With The Sweet Hand of the White Rose on the other hand, I had more days to realize it, more time to tell a real story. And in this case the screenplay is the most important thing.


Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I have to say that I’ve grown up in the cinema world, because I’ve got an uncle who works in there since 30 years. I started to visit him while he was working, and I loved this world from the beginning. For me it was incredible to discover the world “behind” a movie. Step by step (and very slowly), I started to study it and many years ago, I wrote my first screenplay. I’ve continued to write until I directed my first short film, in 2006.


What can you tell us about your films prior to The Puzzle and The Sweet Hand of the White Rose?


Like I said before, the first two films I directed in 2006. The first one was entitled Extreme Love. It was a thriller, but I don’t have any problem to say it is an amateur film. It was the first time I was working behind the camera, and I didn’t know how difficult it was to bring a screenplay to life.

The second one was entitled The Screenplay. It was a horror film. With this one I started to see the things in a different way. This short isn’t perfect, but I consider it the first professional movie I made.


So far, all the films you have directed were shorts. Could you ever be tempted to make a feature film?


Making a feature film is the dream of my life. I think the only way to make it happen is making short films: they are my business cards. I’m a kind of guy that doesn’t like to ask favours from people. I like walking alone, on my own legs. I have to add that in the past I’ve been very close to direct my first film. In 2008, an Italian production house called me, offering me the direction of a film project. It was a film with a budget of more than 1 million Euro. The producers and I presented this project to the Italian Department in Rome, but we failed to receive the money by just a few votes (we classified as number 12 of more than 60 projects, and there was only money for the first 10). 


Future projects you'd like to talk about?


Actually I’m working on a new short film. The idea is shoot it the next year and do the premiere in 2014.


Why in 2014?


Because the giallo (as an Italian cinema genre) celebrates its 50th anniversary. The first giallo film ever was The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963), directed by Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio - click here]. But the same director shot another film entitled Blood and Black Lace one year later, where the emblematic element of the giallo was introduced: the masked murderer with a shiny weapon in his black-leather-gloved hand. And my short film is a giallo, so…


So what is it about? And could you reveal the title?


I want to bring back some classic 60's and 70's giallo films. I like the idea to do an old style giallo short, using new technology. And about the title, I can say that is my special homage to the two best Italian directors of thrilling: Dario Argento and Mario Bava. My new short film is entiled Deep Shock (the fist word homages the famous Dario Argento’s Deep Red and the second one is for Mario Bava’s Shock). And I want to add that this title is simply perfect for the short.


But what is it about?


No, no… I can’t say nothing yet… It’s too early. But I’ve already started to work on it and step by step, I’m making progress. But it’s not easy at all! I hope I can give some good news soon…


Besides directing you have also been assistant director on a number of films, including Dario Argento's La Terza Madre/Mother of Tears: The Third Mother. For all the fanboys out there (me included), you just have to talk about working with Dario Argento for a bit, and are you at all influenced by his style of filmmaking?


Dario Argento is the most important director of terror in Italy and I’m Italian, so… I think there is a little bit of him inside me. It’s normal. I was just a kid and while all my friend thought abut having fun, I was watching Suspiria, Inferno, Deep Red, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, 4 Flies on Grey Velvet. All films that are famous all over the world… What more can I say about him? Working with him has been a fantastic experience. The best thing to do is seeing him working and trying to understand his mind.


By and large, your films seem to be firmly rooted in horror. A genre at all dear to you, and why (not)?


I love all kinds of movies: horror, thriller, drama, comedy, fantasy, action… but when I write a screenplay, I always thing about dark things… I hope to find somebody some day who can explain it to me.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Everybody and anybody. I learn every day, from every film I watch. But I also think that you have to develop your own style.


Your favourite movies?


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Oh, I love so many movies… If I start to list all the films I like, we can spend a lot of time… Anyway if I have to answer quickly, these are some of my favourite films (in different genres): Ben Hur (William Wyler), Psycho (Alfred Hitchcok) and Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone).


.. and of course, films you really deplore?


I don’t like nowaday's remakes. It’s something that I cannot accept. Why do they spend money to do something that has been already done in the past? And all the remakes are of lower quality than the original films. And I hate Cinepanettoni (Italian Christmas Films).


Your website, Facebook, whatever else? 

That’s all! It’s getting more and more difficult to find the time to write… Anyway I recommend people to visit my web, where they can watch videos & trailers, see posters & stills, read reviews & interviews… in there, they can discover all the news about my professional life, including of course festival awards and premieres.


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Let me say thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my films. It’s always amazing to show your work to new people. Thanks again!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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