Genoa – A Ignatius LaRussa little more than twenty years old but already bearded he speaks from the stage of the Almirante rally, in Piazza Cairoli in Milan. It is 1971 and the scene, taken by the Collective cinema militante, opens the film by Marco Bellocchio “Sbatti il monster on the front page”, from 1972, which this afternoon at five o’clock the Sampierdarena Friends of the cinema club will re-propose in a retrospective 50 years later . In that square, that day, there was also another twenty-year-old in the crowd who will have a part in the film the following year. Originally from Chiavari, Maximum Patron he had arrived in Milan on 13 December 1969, the day after the explosion of the bomb in Piazza Fontana, to study at Isef and become a gymnastics instructor. «I was in Piazza Cairoli to contest the rally. I sympathized with the Manifesto group.’
The encounter with cinema dates back to that period. «I was on the tram and I see from the windows a movement that intrigues me. I get off at the first stop, walk up to it and find it’s a film set, where a guy is yelling orders at the crew. The movie was a detective story with Thomas Milian. The guy who was screaming was Ezio Sancrotti, he was an extra and had an extras agency in Milan. I give him my name, the number of my mother’s house in Chiavari, and after a few months I am recruited for a small part in Petri’s “Classe operaia va in paradiso”. Then came Looker’s time.’
“Slam the monster on the front page” had begun to direct Sergio Donati, lo Sergio Leone screenwriter who should have made his directorial debut with that film. Incompatibilities with the protagonist Gian Maria Volonté were, it seems, the cause of his replacement with Bellocchio who arrived after filming had started and did it all over again. Patrone is more than an extra, he plays the part of the psychopathic janitor of a high school who, hopelessly in love with the fifteen-year-old Maria Grazia Martini, kills her. The story then revolves around a conservative newspaper and its editor-in-chief Volonté who exploits the murder to frame a young militant of the far left, presumed guilty, and thus put the opposing political party in a bad light on the eve of the elections. The newspaper is called Il Giornale after the one Indro Montanelli founded two years later, in 1974. In one of the key scenes Volonté goes to Patrone’s house, he understands that he is the murderer but doesn’t want to say it. And he slaps him. “We did that scene 11 times. I took 55 slaps ».
50 years have passed since that film that Patrone first spent in Milan, alternating jobs in the school, as a gym instructor, in documentaries, as a video operator for a series of films of the Province of Milan, and in construction, as an installer of systems for the irrigation of vases and gardens, then in Genoa where he rediscovered the cinema even if from another angle. For over thirty years he has taken over together with Alba Gandolfo the Griffith Film Library and he is a point of reference for so much cinephilia, not only in Italy.
He will be presenting the film this afternoon and with him there will be, connected from North Carolina, Silvia Kramar who in 1972 played Maria Grazia Martini, the victim, and today lives on a farm with her two adopted daughters. In 1972 she was studying in a high school in the center of Milan when upon leaving school she was asked if she wanted to be part of a film. «It seemed like a joke but I gave my mother’s number. They called me, I auditioned and they took me».
In one scene, Maria Grazia’s body is bagged on a cot in the morgue. Doctors arrive, open the zip to examine her body and one of them comments «other than a virgin, this one she used to sleep with everyone». “My mother threatened one lawsuitand they removed the scene».
Silvia Kramar would have been an actress, «on the set I had a lot of fun, they even offered me the acting school of the Piccolo of Milan», but his mother didn’t want to. The cinema came back to knock on her door offering her an audition for Monicelli’s film “Novel popular”. The part of her would then go to Ornella Muti, “and it would still go to her, I certainly couldn’t compete”, but Kramar didn’t even audition, again due to her maternal opposition. «After high school I worked in the fashion field, then I went to study English in America and enrolled in a journalism course there». From the United States she becomes a collaborator and then correspondent, the cases of life, precisely of the Journal. “After my services on the San Francisco earthquake (in 1989, ed.), Emilio Fede asked me to go and work with him on Tg4 where in January 1991 I gave the scoop on the United States attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. But my relationship with Mediaset broke down after a report on Bill Clinton in ’94. As soon as he was elected president he had come to Italy to meet Berlusconi. We and Rai 1 interviewed him exclusively. They asked me to give the interview not to Fede but only to Mentana. Seeing her on TG5, Fede fired me on the spot with a phone call. No one defended me.”
Kramar no longer worked in newspapers and on the news. She has become a single mother of two Chinese adopted girls, and with their help she runs the farm where she raises chickens and outsources some horses, her passion. «I taught Italian at the university, I wrote two books and I collaborate with the court in the custody of minors. I interview the parents, I interview the children and I follow them for a year or two, and then I report to the judge. In a certain sense, I continue to be a journalist, on a very human level».