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The Promise: An Interview with Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before making ‘The Promise’. How did you start, and how did you learn to make films?

It’s an interesting question, since 'The Promise' is my first feature documentary. Before that, I mainly worked in photography, using it as a medium to tell stories of my journeys. I traversed Jordan from north to south, undertook a solo and unsupported journey across Iceland from north to south, climbed mountains, crossed deserts, jungles, and even dove between tectonic plates. Up until that point, I had no experience in filmmaking, and I learned by doing. After all, cinema is essentially photography at 25 frames per second.

Tell us about ‘The Promise’. How do you describe it?

'The Promise' is not merely the story of an alpinist, although it is set in the mountains. It's not about portraying a superhuman, but rather emphasizes how being human is extraordinary. It's a tale of resilience and self-discovery. Ultimately, it conveys the message that we can achieve our dreams as long as we maintain belief in ourselves.

Please tell us about your favorite filmmakers.

I'm captivated by Werner Herzog's cinema verite style, both in his films and documentaries, and how he intertwines facts, magic, and mystery in his narratives. I admire Wim Wenders and his use of sound in storytelling, as well as the immersive atmosphere created by Antonioni through his cinematography.

If you were given a good budget, what would be your ideal project?

I believe that with a solid idea and story, we can execute projects effectively regardless of the budget. For me, a good budget ensures that everyone involved in the project can focus solely on the creative process without financial concerns. Currently, I feel like I'm already working on my ideal project: uncovering the secrets hidden in the Sahara desert.

Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?

Drawing from my previous experience in corporate management, I would ensure adherence to the production schedule while remaining flexible to seize opportunities as they arise. Despite any unforeseen challenges, I would ensure that the project aligns with its original objectives.

Director Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

What was the hardest part of making ‘The Promise’?

The most challenging aspect was maintaining objectivity as the "invisible eye" while forming a close bond with the film's protagonist. During our 72 hours together in a tent at 7200 meters, amidst storms and avalanches, intimacy naturally developed. In difficult moments, such as when Alaa struggled emotionally, I faced the dilemma of whether to prioritize friendship or capturing the raw emotions of the moment.

If possible, tell us about your next work. What plans do you have for your future work?

Do you believe in ghosts? My plan is to accompany a man in the Algerian desert, where ancient legends speak of the Garden of Hesperides and an underworld realm from which no man returns. Here lies the world's largest art gallery, with paintings dating back 15,000 years. Together with the Touareg, an artist, and a scientist, we aim to uncover the ghosts of the Sahara in what promises to be an extraordinary journey.


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