FEDERICO BRUGIA
Milanese from Milan, 49 years old, film director

THE DJ, THE POPE AND THE DIRECTOR WHO WANTED TO MOVE ROME TO MILAN

by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI

FEDERICO BRUGIA

Video 1
I was born in the Magenta district from which I soon moved to the Navigli, my favorite part of the city where I still live.

BETTER DIRECTOR THAN POPE
As a kid I dreamed of doing exactly what I do now, apart from the period – when I was very young – when I wanted to become Pope or orchestra conductor… The choice came fairly early (to become a film director), more or less when I was 12-13 years old, when my father got me a small Super8 camera. In short, that’s what I wanted to do and what I ended up doing.

THE BEGINNING IN THE 80s
I was born in ‘67 and I started to work very early, when I was 18-19 years old, doing my own thing. I finished high school, I started studying at DAMS at the University in Bologna, and had postponed my military service that back then was compulsory. I remember that I had signed a contract for a major production house of the time, the Brw. One day they wanted to send me abroad for a project, but the problem was that at the time if you had to do yor military service, or civil as in my case, you could not leave the country. Therefore I had some problems making my let’s say professional life that had already started coexist with all the commitments that I hadn’t completed yet: degree, military service, etc… Milan helped me a lot because at the time the city was undergoing an explosion of creativity and energy. We’re talking about the city of the Plastic, fashion, design, which was beginning to come out, and especially the city with energy that now it has lost a little.

POSSIBLE DREAMS
It was a fantastic city where if you had a dream and the perseverance to carry it out, it was easy (to make it happen). Not that things were simple but, if you wanted to sow, the ground was very fertile.

DJ + RUNWAY SHOWS = DIRECTOR
I liked working as a DJ, and so I started to propose soundtracks for fashion runway shows in Milan. This way (I thought) I could enter the world of fashion, I could begin to take my super 8 movie camera with me and film things – backstage, curiosities etc … – and then try to sell them. (I could ask the customer) Do you want to buy it? Do you want to put in your shop? I almost never lost.

MILAN AND NEW IDEAS
In the 80s and 90s Milan was definitely the Italian city that more than others – perhaps along with Bologna, but for other things – favored the development of new ideas for advertising, videos, music. Rome is where the cinema industry is and for someone like me who wants to make movies maybe… But I think that both now and in the past it is the city that fosters all forms of innovative new expression.

SPOILED MILANESI
(The others) are a bit hard on us, meaning that they treat us as if we were spoiled, they feel they can safely say: ‘Oh well, you’re a Milanese: life is easy for you… ‘.

HERE WE DO THINGS
But in the end facts count the facts are in Milan. This is what the great merit of the Milanesi is. Things get done in Milan.

FASHION WITHOUT ANY ENERGY
The best memories I have of the famous Fashion Week, which was a bit like Ferragosto in the rest of the country. In Italy people talked about Ferragosto, in Milan about the Fashion Week, where things happened. There were parties, people weirdly dressed, limousines, it was difficult to find taxis… If it was raining when Giorgio Armani’s fashion show was on, it was better to stay home. It was impossible to go out… This has been a bit lost, I don’t know why and I don’t want to say unseemly things. The fact is that there is no longer that attention and internationality. It is so perhaps because today a fashion show can also be watched on the Web, and so there is less acclaim, I don’t know. Certainly it has slowly lost a bit of energy.

MILAN AND THE CRISIS
Milan has to rethink itself because, when Europe and even Italy do it, this city must do the same. Then, if it is true that Milan is a city that has always given opportunity, that freed potential, that has that famous breeding ground, when there are issues that don’t involve only Milan but the entire world, Milan responds as it can. It’s small, it’s cozy, however it has problems to solve confronting itself with the new world.

HOSPITALITY IS OPPORTUNITY
As in all the industrial cities there is the problem of hospitality, the problem of integration, the problem of dealing with a changing world and being prepared to seize opportunities. Here, I hope that Milan will welcome not only the problems to solve, but also the opportunities that these problems can somehow generate.

ARE THERE PEOPLE WHO WERE BORN IN MILAN?
I think one day it would be nice to say Milan is a bit like New York. Woody Allen years ago said: ‘Why, are there people who were born in New York?’.

THANK YOU MILAN
My bond with Milan was decisive, I am grateful to Milan, and then who knows? If I was in New York I would have maybe accomplished even more, or maybe less.

Video 2
Milan is a city that doesn’t sell itself, it is not like Venice or Florence or Rome. You see Milan and you say ‘no…’

IT’S NOT… BUT IT IS… WONDERFUL
But Milan is actually wonderful and I miss it when I’m away. My area, the places I know… Every time you land at Malpensa or Linate you want to go back… because it is not like landing in New York, however, it’s Milan.

GRAY IS BETTER
You find me in a moment in which I am very happy because I don’t love sunny Milan very much and now it is starting to drizzle, to be the dark in the morning… Gray Milan is something you can’t explain, it’s pure poetry… Milan is like a poem… I am reminded of Vanoni’s songs, I don’t know how to explain it. The Navigli, the fog, the mala…

STOP THE CLICHÉS
The idea of the Milanese, of the industrialist, the idea that is a bit vanziniana – with all respect for Vanzina – that thing that we were sold, and that was true because there was a time when Milan was also like that, in short, Craxi’s Milan… Here, that thing no longer exists, that is the imitation of the cummenda… Not a detestable cliché but a ridiculous one.

THE WORLD BEHIND THE FRONT DOOR
I live in the Navigli district and to this day I keep discovering things… In those buildings that overlook the Naviglio, you open the front door and inside there is a courtyard, then you see an alley and then another courtyard and finally you get to the other Naviglio… This is hidden Milan, also this one is a cliché, though it is true that hidden Milan is behind doors, in the courtyards…

A MAGICAL PLACE
I share with my wife the love for a place in particular, where among other things we wanted to get married, the church San Bernardino alle Ossa, which is beautiful and is located in the university area. It’s a little gem…

SKYSCRAPERS. NOT BAD.
With the area of new skyscrapers at the beginning I had a somewhat unfortunate relationship, meaning that I didn’t like it at all… Now I must say that the more I go through that area, at all hours of the day, and recently I’ve been there often for site supervisions, the more I like it.

THE NEW DARSENA? MAH!
The Darsena is a place that historically, so I’m not speaking about the aesthetics but about local history, has nothing to do with what has been done, it has nothing to do with it. Moreover, what has been done, in my personal opinion, it is not something amazing. From my personal taste point of view, however, like many Milanesi – so my opinion is supported by many other people – I think it hasn’t made Milan any more beautiful.

THE BIGGEST MISUNDERSTANDING
Thinking that Milan is only a place where people who design clothes, design objects, beautiful things… The misunderstanding of its superficiality, Milan is a thousand other things.

GRASSI’S AND STREHLER’S CITY
Let’s talk about this. Milan was the city of Grassi, Strehler, the Piccolo Teatro. It is not just fashion, there is a very deep side of Milan.

CINEMA IN MILAN
It is very difficult to make films in Milan. It has been established that the films should be made in Rome, in Milan one can only make advertising.

THE NEW MOVIE ON BERLUSCONI
My (new) story (for my new film) has something to do (with Berlusconi) because it is about the free television of the 80s, the end of free television because new things were happening in Milan. It happened that a gentleman that everyone knows created a TV channel and bought small television channels scattered throughout Italy, the small free channels. So it is about the passage from provincial Italy, which made its shows with amateurs imitating Adriano Celentano and danced around, to today’s Italy where the same thing happens but on a national scale. Because today we call it X Factor but once it was called Pomofiore…