A conversation with British director and producer Michael Apted took place yesterday at MIA with a dedicated panel. The talk was moderated by Marco Spagnoli and focused on his long career – a career loaded with success, from his career as a director of spy and fantasy movies (007 film The World Is Not Enough, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), to his parallel and prestigious career as a documentary filmmaker.
And it is no coincidence that Apted is in the list of the best documentary filmmakers worldwide. His most ambitious project is Up, a series of documentaries he’s been directing since 1972 in which he interviews fourteen children of 7 years old, coming from the most different social environments, and continues filming them every seven years to get a precise portrait of the evolution of the English population at the end of the twentieth century. “The Up Series has been going on for nearly 50 years – stated the British director – it was a brilliant idea born in Manchester in the 70s. We said, ‘why don’t we interview 7-year olders’, and it was amazing to see how differently they lived, grew up and were educated.”
Along with the protagonists, Apted has also grown up, both as a person and as a director: “The greatest thing I’ve learned has been listening to them instead of asking them questions. It took me twenty-five years to understand this, but it allowed them to reveal things about themselves that they considered noteworthy of their personalities.”
The English director spoke at a MIADOC Panel, the MIA section dedicated to Italian and international documentaries. Apted underlined the importance of this film genre, “Documentaries can be revealing like a film. I believe we can actually understand humanity through a good documentary”.
Michael Apted considers this genre so important to consider the Up documentaries his legacy to the world, as he explained to Marco Spagnoli and to the audience of the Quattro Fontane Cinema. “When I started the Up series, I knew for sure things would be changing and this spurred me to continue. I’ve always known this would have been my masterpiece, and that even if I had given up a few US movies for this documentary, it would have been a fair swap.”