Franca: Chaos & Creation, screened as part of the Toronto Fashion Week programming this season, examines the life and career of Franca Sozzani, the legendary editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue for almost three decades until her passing late last year, through the lens of her son, filmmaker Francesco Carrozzini. Carrozzini’s first full-length feature, Franca: Chaos & Creation premiered September 2016 at the Venice International Film Festival, and will be shown in selected theatres and on Netflix later this year.
“I’ve always wanted to embark on a long feature idea,” says Carrozzini, “It was a mix of that and my father’s death that just naturally made me turn to my mother and say ‘here’s the subject of my film’.” The movie took Carrozzini four years to complete, and although he was busy with other projects for half of that time, much of the delay was reworking the film completely once his mother had seen a first cut and called it “horrible” and “mediocre.” A turning point was when director Baz Luhrmann, a family friend, told Carrozzini to “make the film that only you can make.”
Accordingly reworked, Franca pairs and contrasts grainy home videos of Sozzani’s childhood with interviews with fashion-world luminaries including Valentino and Bruce Weber, and family portraits with slideshows of iconic Italian Vogue covers. Carrozzini conducts confessional-style, off-the-cuff interviews in Italian with his mother in the backseat of a chauffeured car between fashion week appointments, but also unpacks the global impact and influence of her controversial, groundbreaking editorials on topics such as plastic surgery and domestic violence during her 27-year tenure atop one of the most influential fashion publications in the world.
It’s this intertwining of Sozzani’s professional legacy with the relationship between mother and son that elevates Franca, giving the viewer a glimpse of Franca beyond her public persona, and examining the process and drive behind her work and career. “You can’t be stingy with dreams; you have to dream big,” Sozzani advises her son at one point. She certainly did.
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