Belly Button Broth:
a short film by Giuseppe Gagliardi

Giuseppe Gagliardi (director), with Peter Oliva (right)

Some years ago, I was very lucky to meet two Italian filmmakers: Giuseppe Gagliardi and Peppe Volterelli. A mutual friend set us up. We were supposed to meet in a darkened theatre, at the film premiere of The True Legend of Tony Vilar. Of course, we had some trouble recognizing each other. I seemed to hear my name everywhere, at all the exits, and later, on the intercom system, which was briefly alarming. (I was a new father, and therefore, fraught with worry).

From this strange introduction, I met these two lovely fellows. We had dinner that night. They flew home to Rome and a few days later, Giuseppe called me with an idea to put one of my stories to film. There was a certain festival coming up, he said. Film and food. That was all he said, and that was enough for me.

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The result? Belly Button Broth is a folktale, a period-piece, set in 1900, in Bologna. It follows the brief, unrequited love story of an apprentice pasta maker and the woman who inspires him. The film was shot in Bologna. Peppe Voltarelli has a cameo in the film (he’s eating pasta in the final scene). The violinist Erma Castriota wrote and performed some original music. I’m told that the voice-over was someone famous, a recognizable voice from Italian cinema, and this cost ate up most of their budget. We talked about the ending of the piece, but even after writing this story it seemed like a surprise to see it unfold.

Giuseppe arranged everything. He was the director, of course. The short film was produced by Andrea Kerkoc, of Avocado Pictures. It was shot on 35mm, and ran ten minutes.

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An Italian review appeared in Gazzetta Del Sud, May 31, 2007