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(Not Quite) 10 Questions for Francesco Pascuzzi


There was no Google where you could type in "gay liberation" or "trans" and find all there was to know. Even the term "homosexual" wasn't used, and to take back a title from a pamphlet in FUORI!, it was an "unmentionable practice." The first time I'd heard about it publicly was in November of 1975 after the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini. News programs on TV made allusions rather than actual statements about his ascertained or presumed homosexuality. It was precisely on the occasion of the school assembly that was held after his murder that I first came out, supported by my firends in the collective.
—from "Coming Out," Volume 64, Issue 4 (Winter 2023)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
Interestingly enough, Marcasciano’s Antologaia is the first piece I translated professionally, so to speak. I have always been incredibly interested in the practice of translation, however, dating all the way back to the late ‘90s when I attended a few translation seminars at Universit√† Roma Tre in Rome, Italy. Having grown up as a bilingual individual (Italian and English), I think I have always been fascinated with the coding and decoding processes associated with the process of language acquisition, with a particular focus on code switching from local Italian dialects to standard Italian to standard US English.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
I would definitely have to credit film scholar and journalist Lietta Tornabuoni (1931-2011) and her work on Fellini and in La Stampa for informing and shaping my writing – her eminently vivid, paratactic, economic style definitely helped me finesse a much more effective rhetorical scaffolding for my ideas. I first approached her work when I was in high school, and I was immediately struck by how different and effective her prose read. There is an aesthetically pleasing quality about her writing that makes it feel exceptionally resonant, and her work introduced me to the idea that form is as important as content.

What other professions have you worked in?
I’ve been in academia since 2006. Before that, I worked as a freelance publicist for a large press agency in Rome called 9Colonne. I had just completed my Laurea degree, and I got the chance to cover film (including working on site at the Venice Film Festival two consecutive years) and sports for a number of different publications. I have always been an avid reader and writer, and it was an exceptionally rewarding experience until I realized I could not make a living out of it.

What did you want to be when you were young?
Tennis pro, seal biologist, novelist…you name it. I was a hyperactive child with a very vivid imagination. That said, I’ve always been fascinated with the performing arts, and I grew up dreaming about being in and writing movies. I’m still actively involved in screenwriting, which is one of my main personal occupations outside work, and I get to teach film and writing to my students, which I truly cherish.

What drew you to write a translation of this piece in particular?
Antologaia is an astonishing archival testimony of living life as a queer individual in Italy at a point in time where queerness was still demonized both socially and politically. Porpora’s defiant and colorful voice captivated me from the very opening sentence, and I feel so honored for having had the opportunity to amplify her message, which feels as timely today as it did back then.

Is there any specific music that aids you through the writing or editing process?
I listen to a lot of ambient electronica to set up the right mood, and that is usually what is playing in the background. I have chromesthesia, so I try to keep the volume down so as not to get overly triggered/stimulated.

Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
None in particular, but I do try to write scripts and/or any pieces of creative writing in chronological order relative to the story/narrative. It helps me keep track of the diegesis and it makes it easier to plan out specific plot or character developments.

What are you working on currently?
I am currently working on a conference paper on the use of mockumentary-style footage in Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo (2008) for a panel I will be co-chairing at NeMLA in March. I watched that movie 10 or so years ago for the first time, and I really haven’t been able to shake it off since; it just struck me as a particularly haunting and formally fascinating text, since horror film has historically relied more often and successfully on the found footage technique as the preferred method to fictionalize the "real," the purported found footage being the film presented to the audience. Lake Mungo is instead imagined as a documentary portraying the disappearance/death of a teenage girl and the ripple effect of these events on her family and their community more at large, and the film transcends not only a number of genre conventions, but also the typical boundaries of mockumentary-style movies in ways that I felt were worth investigating. I have also finally completed the script for my first feature-length film, which has taken several years (and one catastrophic laptop hard-drive crash) to complete. I’m particularly excited about that and I am in the process of applying to a few fellowships.

What are you reading right now?
I am currently reading Vicious Circuits: Korea’s IMF Cinema and the End of the American Century by Joseph Jonghyun Jeon. I am particularly interested in the intersection between film and cultural studies, and I have been researching Hallyu and Korean cinema of the new millennium.

 


FRANCESCO PASCUZZI received a Ph.D. in Italian from Rutgers University. He currently teaches English writing at Rutgers University as an assistant teaching professor. He has presented and published on a variety of topics, from Visconti's "Morte a Benezia" to the representation of reality in cinema novo and neorealism. He is the editor of Dreamscapes in Italian Cinema and The Spaces and Places of Horror. His main field of research encompasses comparative and transnational studies between Italian and foreign cinema, and his current interests include modern and contemporary horror film, Hallyu, and contemporary Korean cinema. 


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