I first met Guido Torlonia in Venice in 1991. Officially, we were admiring a private collection of Canova marble statues but I kept staring at him. Guido resembled a blond Renaissance prince. At the time, he was the protégé of Giorgio Strehler, one of the maestros of Italian theatre and opera and renowned for his theatre Piccolo Teatro di Milan. Since Guido spoke flawless English, it led to close dealings with creative giants like Martha Graham and Peter Brook. A few years later he worked for Miuccia Prada then left to eventually write and direct three well-received plays about Strehler, Frederico Fellini and Luchino Visconti as well as managing international productions starring the likes of Tilda Swinton, Richard Gere, Diane Lane and Edward Norton.
"Emphasising that the venue was formerly the legendary Etoile cinema, Guido has organised a creative programme inspired by the richness of Italy’s film heritage"
Nowadays, Guido is the artistic director of the Space Etoile. This is the theatre in the newly opened Louis Vuitton boutique in Rome. Emphasising that the venue was formerly the legendary Etoile cinema, Guido has organised a creative programme inspired by the richness of Italy’s film heritage. Just recently, there were the Roman Divas – short films concerning actresses Anna Magnani, Monica Vitti and Virna Lisi. And of course there’s Handmade Cinema, the incredible documentary directed by Guido that captures the magic of Cinecitta, often referred to as Hollywood on the Tiber.
Narrated by Chiara Mastroanni, the 58-minute film follows the artisans and skilled geniuses whom are behind the scenes. Dante Ferretti, the production designer, is fairly known to the general public. Martin Scorsese relies on him in the same way that Fellini did. Still, it’s the hidden talents, such as the wigmaker Fernanda Rocchetti, who stir the emotions. “My mother-in-law (Signora Rocchetti) treated the workers like her own daughters,” she says. Of course, she did and that’s why the traditions and techniques continue.
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. A former classical dancer, his book for children titled "A Bunny in the Ballet" will be available early in 2014 from Scholastic, Inc.