SALVATORE FERRAGAMO’S MOVIE STAR TURN: Salvatore Ferragamo, founder of his namesake company, was no stranger to the movie world, creating shoes for the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Now, thanks to Luca Guadagnino, Ferragamo will be a movie star himself. Organizers of the Venice Film Festival confirmed on Tuesday that the event will go on as scheduled in a physical format, running Sept. 2 to 12, and Guadagnino’s feature-length documentary on Ferragamo will be presented in the Out of Competition section.
“It is very important for us to hold the festival as a physical event,” said the festival’s president Roberto Cicutto during the livestreamed press conference. While the number of films is slightly reduced, totaling 62 and 15 short movies, “the heart of the exhibition is preserved,” said Alberto Barbera, artistic director of the festival.
Guadagnino’s documentary traces Ferragamo’s artistic journey, while also exploring the history of Italy and America, the latter the country where he first developed his business. The film relates Ferragamo’s path, starting his career as an apprentice shoemaker in Naples and then becoming the owner of the Hollywood Boot Shop in California, to his return to Italy, founding his namesake company in Florence.
The film, Barbera said during the presentation, is “fascinating, disruptive and perfectly accomplished.”
“We were overjoyed to learn that the film about my father’s life would be presented at the Venice Film Festival,” said chairman Ferruccio Ferragamo, Salvatore’s son. “It is an honor for me and my entire family that a director of Luca Guadagnino’s caliber would take an interest in our family history, adapting it for the big screen.”
Ferragamo’s autobiography inspired Guadagnino to develop the project starting in 2017, reaching out to the Ferragamo family. The director had access to the fashion brand’s archives, family anecdotes and interviews, including with the late Wanda Miletti, Salvatore’s wife, who died in October 2018.
For three years, Fondazione Salvatore Ferragamo and Museo Salvatore Ferragamo worked with the director and screenwriter Dana Thomas. Research was also based on the tape recordings of Salvatore Ferragamo reading aloud some of the chapters of his autobiography, which were restored for the occasion, and the radio interviews he gave in Australia. In a teaser, Martin Scorsese says that Ferragamo, born in 1898 in Bonito, in Italy’s Campania region, moved to Naples, which at the time in “itself was another galaxy.”
“That has been my life’s work: striving to learn to make shoes that always fit and the refusal to put my name to any that do not fit,” writes Ferragamo in the preface to his autobiography. “Therefore please look behind the story of the small, barefoot, unlettered boy who became a famous shoemaker, and seek the pleasure you will obtain from walking well.”
Guadagnino, whose movie “Call Me By Your Name” received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and one for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Timothée Chalamet’s interpretation, in 2012 founded the production company Frenesy Film specifically for taking on projects with major fashion brands, and he has directed or produced short films or commercials for, among others Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi, Cartier, Pomellato and Valentino.