It is 1976 and the cheapest and dodgiest Italian horror film production studio is slowly driving Gilderoy, a quiet and timid sound engineer from England, crazy. Having left the world of looking after his garden and sound mixing documentaries to enter the mad, demonic and bloody world of horror, fear and hysteria, he gets increasingly homesick and struggles to remain sane during a time of his life when exploitation and black magic take the front row in his work and thoughts. Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio sounds dark, witty and bizarre, which is exactly why we want to check it out.
A film about films is always interesting and the more the layers of make-believe, the more we love it. But when the writer-director has had a long history working as a movie sound engineer, then you know that this is going to be good. After he turned from sound engineering to writing and directing, Peter Strickland shot his first feature film Katalin Varga entirely independently in 2006 and went on to win a number of prestigious awards, including the Silver Bear in Berlin. In 2009 his debut film also got The European Film Academy’s Discovery of the Year award.
Berberian Sound Studio has been completed and will most likely show in Cannes or Venice. However it is expected to be officially released in the beginning of 2013. The film is produced by Mary Burke (Submarine) alongside Simon Field and Keith Griffiths (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Little Otik, Institute Benjamenta) from Illuminations Films. Co-producer is Hans Geißendörfer and executive producers are Robin Gutch, Katherine Butler and Hugo Heppell. Nic Knowland (Barbarians At The Gate) is in charge of the film’s cinematography, Chris Dickens (Slumdog Millionaire) signs the editing and this chiefly English production is supported by Warp X, Film4, Screen Yorkshire and the UK Film Council as well as Geißendörfer Film- und Fernsehproduktion KG.
However the most interesting part about the film is its lead. Award-winning English actor Toby Jones (Frost/Nixon, Infamous, My Week With Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Hunger Games, Red Lights) takes on the role of quiet Gilderoy and becomes lost inside the blood and horror that his new job requires to deal with on a daily basis. Although the actor has had quite the strong presence in the industry the last few years, the role that has really gained him critical acclaim has been that of Truman Capote in Infamous in 2005.
By Toby Jones’ side, Antonio Mancino will play the horror maestro Santini, on whose film poor Gilderoy has to work, Susanna Cappellaro is Veronica, Tonia Sotiropoulou portrays Elena and Cosimo Fusco is Francesco. Peter Strickland’s film is half in Italian and half in English and is expected to create quite the buzz. Berberian Sound Studio can be half as dark and odd as the premise promises and Toby Jones can showcase half his acting talent and we’ll still have a film to keep us talking for a while.