Italy, Poland


Ermanno and Lena are two strangers. Lena has come from Poland to sell her baby. Ermanno has to pretend to be the father so that he can entrust the newborn to his uncle Fabio. As Lena rejects her motherly desire, Ermanno starts to assume his role as if he was the actual father of Sole, the baby girl. Unexpectedly, they will experience family life together.

Director's Statement

Ever since I was young, I have been wondering what my life would be like if I became a father: what does becoming a father, becoming a parent, mean? Obviously, it has nothing to do simply with giving birth to a creature with one's genetic traits, but rather with a change of attitude concerning one's prospects, one's expectations. How does it feel to lay one's eyes on a newly born creature whom you have to take care of, whom you feel responsible for? I have wondered if I might ever become the father of a child who is not biologically my own, a route which is maybe less common, but no less concrete due to this. SOLE is an attempt to answer such a question. I did it by using an extreme case, an extra-ordinary story, which does, however, spring from research on the field: surrogacy is forbidden by law in Italy, there are many illegal subterfuges in the world of adoptions, where infant trafficking is a concrete reality. I started researching, and imagined a "case" like the one spoken about in the film. At that point I contacted the President of the Juvenile Tribunal in Rome, who confirmed that she had personally dealt with episodes of that type. I continued my research and I realised that what I wanted to depict was not the world concealed behind infant trafficking, but a private story: the story of a youth asked to fake being a father, who gets to the point of really feeling like a father. An identification journey caused to playing a fictitious role. On the other hand, I wanted to depict a girl determined to sell her daughter, who finds herself facing all the emotional conflicts arising from a forced contact with her daughter, and her unexpected bonding with an unknown youth. Above all, I felt right away that I wanted to treat a story which was very crude on paper with almost paradoxical delicacy, because I believe that we can find the tenderness, the feelings which can urge a change in our lives in the most unexpected contexts. I saw a possibility before me of telling a love story, I realised that I was on ground which was new for me, and I wanted to go all the way because of this. I think that watching a movie gives the spectator a sort of divination power: sometimes, although he may not possess all the details, and indeed often for this very reason, he is capable of feeling, of guessing what the character thinks, what he feels, without any need for words. I wanted to research that feeling. I searched for an essential language which would restore the characters' emotional condition, the sort of emotional stillness they have at the beginning of the film in spite of all that happens to them, a language open to showing all the complexity of the feelings they begin to feel and which crack their emotional cages. I looked for simplicity and synthesis, and I have tried to make certain classic cinema devices mine in the course of this journey. The choice of a 1:1.33 format also goes in this direction: it has helped me a lot to synthesise, to forget any possible refinement and to concentrate on Ermanno and Lena's characters. It was clear to me straight away that Ermanno should be a non-professional actor: I wanted a basic unawareness in who would play him. Claudio Segaluscio immediately proved perfect, with his apparent distance and the pain in his eyes mixed up with great sweetness. But I was equally sure instead that Lena should be a professional actress: I wanted her greater preparation to be felt in her relationship with Ermanno. We began castings in various countries in Eastern Europe, until we found Sandra, with her rather childish lightness and almost ghostly presence. I immediately understood that her way of playing the character was far more interesting than what I had in mind. She learned Italian for the film, but she only knew her lines, we worked in English. Claudio instead did not feel comfortable talking in English. My two protagonists could not communicate with each other, they could only do so on set, through the words and glances they outlined together. In order to focus on what those glances were supposed to beam back, the lyrics of a song I have loved since I was a teenager helped me a lot, “Brand New Love” by Sebadoh: “Every thought could be the beginning of the brand new tangled web you’re spinning, anyone could be a brand new love”. I realised that I wanted to film the moment described in those words, the moment in which a “new tangled web” is born unknowingly, from a glance, from a not-yet clear thought, and with which love envelops us without us even realising it yet. There: I wanted to film such a glance, such a thought, to experience it together with my protagonists.

Director's Biography

Carlo Sironi was born in Rome in 1983.
At the age of 18, he began studying photography and working in film as a camera assistant and subsequently as an assistant director.
SOFIA, his first short film as a director, was in competition at the 28th Torino Film Festival. CARGO, his second short film, was presented in competition at the 69th International Venice Film Festival and nominated for Best Italian Short Film at the 2013 David di Donatello. VALPARAISO, his third short film, was awarded in 2016 at the Locarno Festival.

2019 SOLE
2016 VALPARAISO, short
2012 L FILO DI ARIANNA, short doc
2012 CARGO, short
2008 SOFIA, short

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Carlo Sironi

Written by: Carlo Sironi, Giulia Moriggi, Antonio Manca

Produced by: Giovanni Pompili, Agnieszka Wasiak

Cinematography: Gergely Pohárnok

Editing: Andrea Maguolo

Production Design: Ilaria Sadun

Costume Design: Olivia Bellini

Make-Up & Hair: Valentina Iannuccilli

Original Score: Teoniki Rozynek

Sound: Michal Fojcik, Stefano Sabatini, Marzia Cordò, Gianluca Scarlata

Cast: Sandra Drzymalska (Lena), Claudio Segaluscio (Ermanno)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Discovery - Prix Fipresci 2020