By Arnold Wayne Jones

Last week, we ran an interview with Yen Tan, director and co-author of the new gay film "Ciao," which plays this week at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. We had planned to also interview Alessandro Calza, the co-star and co-author of the film. However, at the last minute, Calza was unable to come to the U.S. (he lives and works in Italy). And unfortunately, by the time Calza responded to some questions we send him via e-mail, the issue had gone to press.

But that’s the glory of the Internet. Here, now, the lost interview with Alessandro Calza, who will break more than a few hearts when you realize he won’t be in town anytime soon.

Q. This is your first movie as a writer and actor. How was the experience?
A. Making a movie is a fantastic experience. As a spectator, you see the final product, which is actually a very small amount of what is happening on the set during filming. As an actor, you don’t perceive the magic of cinema but more the struggle of acting, which can be very hard and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. The good thing, unexpectedly, is this out-of-reality, little big world known as the "set," which is a wonderful playground to live and be in. At least for a while.

I am a graphic designer and I work alone via the Internet. I almost do not see or talk to anyone all day. You can imagine how overwhelming it is to live 24 hours a day with strangers (in my case, even more as they’re foreigners, too). From making this film, they become your friends, your partners, your comrades, just like that in a flash. Today, when I think about making another film, it stills sounds like the biggest desire and the biggest fear to me at the same time.

Q. What was it like working in English?
A. Hard and easy — it depends a lot on your approach. The way I express and write in English is sort of peculiar because it’s a mix of experience, media and education. With this as a starting point, you can either rely on your personal vision and way of expressing yourself or decide to question yourself by comparing your work to conventional English screenwriting. In my case, I write and produce way slower. I think both Yen and I found ourselves in both scenarios. Sometimes we trusted ourselves straight away, other times we questioned our work extensively.

Q. How close is the character you play, Andrea, to you in real life?
A. Let’s say 50 percent. Andrea resembles more of the details of my character than my psychology. I think I served as the "shell" of the character. The emotional side of Andrea and his personality are very different from mine. In the film, I can say that just the good parts of the story are autobiographical; the bad is fictional.

Q. Tell me something interesting about working with Yen that you’ve never mentioned to him or that would surprise people to learn.
A. I think I pretty much said everything I thought about Yen to him already, because if I have something on my mind, I don’t last long before I have to say it. But maybe Yen has never read an articulate opinion from me, about his work and his direction, and ultimately, as a person.

Yen is a very good person like few are nowadays. His most important quality, apart from talent itself, is his ability to mediate. I think this is an Asian trait. He’s very reasonable, which is not common at all among artists where ego takes over most of the time. He’s very easy to spend time with because, among other things, he has a great sense of humor, sometimes scatological. But I think this is an American trait, too. I’m kidding, I love America — everybody knows that!

Q. What was your impression of the gay community in Dallas?
A. I didn’t live much of it, unfortunately. On one hand, production locked me in my hotel (okay I’m exaggerating) and they didn’t want me to get on a motorbike and risk having an accident while filming. On the other hand, because the work schedule on the set is so manic, there’s not much time for fun.

But I did have the chance to go out, especially to the Round-Up, which I fell in love with as soon as I stepped in. Let’s face it: what’s more exotic than a gay country and western bar for an Italian? Maybe a gay redneck with a rugby build.

Overall, compared to Los Angeles or New York, men in Dallas are more shy. Not all these cowboys came over and introduced themselves when I went out. For the most part, everyone has been extremely nice, as people are in Texas, in general. Dallas was great for me to spend time in. I got used to it very fast.

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