Didier Ghez: Please tell us about the genesis of this project. How did it start and why?
Marco Spagnoli: I was asked from Disney Theatrical CEO in Italy Stefano Bethlen to suggest a special project in order to launch 'Saving Mr.Banks' in Italy.
I'm a consultant with many Hollywood Studios in Rome where I work. I told him: "I usually give disinterested advices. This time I will give an interested one. Why don't we do a documentary about Walt Disney special relationship with Italy and Italians? Why don't we put together all footage regarding Disney's travels to Italy and we blend it with witnesses from the past and testimonials from the present?"
Walt Disney in Italy is like Leonardo DaVinci. Everybody knows him, his work is like a fundament of our society. Every child sees his movies and we learn to read on Topolino that is Mickey Mouse Magazine.
Stefano, and I must underline the cleverness and courage of this executive, decided to bring to his bosses this crazy idea and they all liked it because I promised to bring intellectuals as well as fashion designer and Italian movie Star to talk about WD. And I did it.
We worked very closely with Disney in order to have them with us in every step and they have been wonderful and incredibly supportive and nice.
I was incredibly honored and flattered to have the responsibility of directing a documentary on Walt Disney and Italy.
Even tough I'm too involved, I must say I admire Disney's people who, instead of buying some P&A for supporting 'Saving Mr.Banks' they took the 'risk' of producing a documentary with the same money.
They were brave and smart, and they were 'visionaries' in a strict disneyan sense: starting from Italy Country Manager Daniel Frigo, the already mentioned Stefano Bethlen and all the others.
My documentary is also a homage to all the Disney people in Italy and all over the world who are trying to bring on this incredible legacy.
DG: What were the most exciting things you learned about Disney history while working on this project?
MS: His generosity: his pure curiosity and his love for art and Nature. That's why, I guess, he loved Italy so much. For its simplicity and its immediate connection with his vision.
Nobody could stop his art and the beauty of his work. Not even Mussolini could forbade Topolino Magazine and after almost 50 years from his death, Walt Disney is still alive and well in our culture. Like all great artists.
As somebody states in our documentary 'Walt Disney is considered an Italian: his work belong to this country like pizza and Vespa. Are you saying we are wrong? Think again..."
Walt Disney is an Icon. We bow to his greatness and we respect him as a family friend or member.
Giacomo Scarpelli who's been Academy Award nominated for Il Postino's screenplay told us an incredible anecdote about his personal meeting
with Disney in Hollywood when he was nine.
DG: What are the key surprises Disney History enthusiasts can expect?
MS: I hope that everybody will share the feeling of the love of Italian people for Walt Disney and viceversa. Plus I think they will see altogether some very interesting (and moving...) footage. I do hope they will like Fellini remembering his meeting with Disney and other stuff like this...
For the first time we'll show Fellini's sketches of him and Disney at Disneyland in HD.
I don't know...maybe this is a pop documentary on the imaginary collective of Italy on Walt Disney...somebody might not discover anything he doesn't know, but my hope is everybody will cry in the end of the documentary, because we show something, maybe unexpected....we'll see.
DG: For people outside of Italy... Are there any plans yet to release the documentary on DVD?
MS: It depends on Disney, of course. Hopefully they might like and do it worldwide. It will probably play on iTunes and we are working on developing a special Italian Edition.
DG: Are you planning to tackle any other Disney-related project after this one?
MS: No. I'm working on developing other documentaries related to Movies or Entertainment, but I don't think that I could add more on Disney, altough I'm puzzled why nobody tackled his artistry and his special friendships with Eisenstein, Dalì and Hitchcock. That would be nice, but it should be done from somebody who would have direct access to documents and papers of all these artists.