The director is interviewed by Italian Academy Fellow and New Yorker writer Rich Benjamin
The Italian Academy’s Summer Online Festival will present three of Minervini’s feature films in the coming days: What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (2018), The Other Side (2015), and Low Tide (2012). Here at the start, the director talks with Rich Benjamin about his films, all set in the U.S. South, and the issues they raise about race and class in 21st-century America.
Born in Fermo, Italy, in 1970, Roberto Minervini obtained a degree in Economics and Commerce at the University of Ancona and a doctorate in History of Cinema at the University of Madrid. He moved to the United States in October 2000 to work as an IT consultant. In 2004, he completed a master’s degree in media studies at the New School. From 2006 to 2007, he taught at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines.
Minervini began writing, directing, and producing films shortly after completing his master’s degree at the New School. Prior to producing full-length feature films, he made a number of shorts, including Voodoo Doll, Come to Daddy, Notes, and The Fireflies. 2011’s The Passage was a nominee for the Golden Zenith at the Montréal World Film Festival.
Low Tide, his 2012 film, showed at the Venice Film Festival, winning the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Special Award and garnering a nomination for the Venice Horizons Award. His film Stop the Pounding Heart was included in the Official Selection of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and has won numerous awards at other festivals, including the David di Donatello Award for Best Documentary.
The Other Side was shown in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival 2015. At the 2018 Venice Film Festival, What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? was nominated for the Golden Lion award and won the Premio Vivere da Sportivi Award, the Fair Play Cinema Award, and the UNICEF Award.
Italian Academy Fellow (2020–21) Rich Benjamin is an American cultural critic, anthropologist, and author. He is perhaps best known for the non-fiction book Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America. Benjamin’s investigation of Whitopia was the subject of a TED Talk seen by more than 2.7 million people.
He is also a lecturer and a public intellectual, who regularly discusses issues on NPR, PBS, CNN and MSNBC. His writing frequently appears in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and The Los Angeles Times.
Benjamin’s work focuses on United States politics and culture, comparative world politics, money, class, Whites, Latinos, public policy, global cultural transformation, and demographic change. He was formerly a Senior Fellow and Director of the Fellows Program at the think tank Demos.