“Someone had to tell the story of this crazy Italian woman who did something exceptional,”
says Los Angeles-based photographer and director Francesco Carrozzini on the subject of his first documentary, Franca: Chaos and Creation. The “crazy Italian” in question is Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia since 1988, one of the most powerful figures in fashion and, as it happens, the director’s mother. “It’s like someone paid for therapy for a few years of my life!” he jokes.
Even though the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and is currently making its way through the festival circuit, delves into Sozzani’s extraordinary career—from creating the supermodel phenomenon of the ’90s (Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, et al.) along with her friends Gianni Versace and Steven Meisel to the controversial BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill-inspired photo shoot two years later that made headlines—it aims deeper. “For me [the documentary is] about two people and their love,” says the Emmy-nominated director, whose credits include music videos for Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey and A$AP Rocky, and who regularly shoots for L’Uomo Vogue, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. “Maybe I alienated some [who] just wanted another fashion film, but I gained the biggest audience—everyone who understands the relationship between mother and son.”
The stellar roll call of appearances by Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace does not disappoint, but it’s the intimate scenes between Carrozzini and Sozzani bickering in the back of a car or laughing about him as “an ugly baby” that resonate.
“When my father died I started to understand that I missed out on some things, and it took almost five years of making this film to feel comfortable with the story it was telling,” he explains. “I didn’t know anything about her early life. When I stumbled upon these 8 mm films at my grandma’s house, that’s when I understood. We all think of our parents as these perfect human beings and the truth is they are people who have stories and love and hate and make mistakes. That was the real discovery; my mother is not perfect, but she has the strength and determination and imagination of very few.” • KIKI GEORGIOU
Edited by Kelsey McKinnon.
PHOTOS: Copyright Franca the Movie LLC. 2016