Short of the Week

Play
Romance Lorenzo Tardella

Le variabili dipendenti (The Dependent Variables)

In a dark, velvety theatre there is a first kiss between Pietro and Tommaso. When the lights come back on, however, the two students have different expectations of what might follow.

Play
Romance Lorenzo Tardella

Le variabili dipendenti (The Dependent Variables)

In a dark, velvety theatre there is a first kiss between Pietro and Tommaso. When the lights come back on, however, the two students have different expectations of what might follow.

Le variabili dipendenti (The Dependent Variables)

The lights dim, the orchestra begins, and Pietro, Tommaso and the rest of their class, sit in the lodge, ready to take in Vivaldi’s masterpiece. As Summer plays, they draw nearer and share a kiss. Is it just a fleeting, inconsequential moment,or is it the first time they’ve both experienced intimacy with someone else? This is the question director Lorenzo Tardella explores in Le variabili dipendenti (The Dependent Variables), as his short looks at how both protagonists grasp the moment and deal with its aftermath.

“Those glimpses, those goosebumps, everything about that moment was somehow still alive in me”

“It all comes from a memory of my early teenage years”, Tardella shared with us, confessing that the inspiration behind the short was rooted in that first scene at the theater. “Those glimpses, those goosebumps, everything about that moment was somehow still alive in me”, he revealed. Although using well-known classical music piece in film, is one of the most eye-roll inducing tricks for me, even I have to admit that the selection of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons fosters the perfect atmosphere for what Tardella aimed to achieve: “to create an immersive experience on how it feels to dive into intimacy for the very first time in your life”.

Most coming-of-age narratives capture moments that initially seem mundane but ultimately turn into core memories. In Le variabili dipendenti Tardella depicts a universal one, the first kiss! On the cusp of teenagehood, both Pietro and Tommaso are starting to have feelings they can’t quite express. Whether it’s in the darkness of that theater or the empty house later, the environment allows them to hit pause and briefly express themselves, before life catches up with them and they both deal with the moment very differently. Who could blame them? Many adults still struggle with this level of vulnerability.

The Dependent Variables Lorenzo Tardella

“It was very clear to me that being close to my characters was the only possible way to tell this kind of story” – Tardella discussing their approach to filming.

Co-written with Mara Fondacaro and Elisa Pulcini, Tardella infuses the screenplay for his short with a compelling youthful energy. With both boys unsure of how to navigate what is happening to them, the authenticity of that moment, present on the page, gives the film its universal layer, engaging the audience emotionally. Immersed in those moments with them, the audience can feel the palpable tension growing. Together with DP Simone Rossi, Tardella crafted a visual language that echoes the importance of the moment to the characters, adding emotional weight to this slice of life narrative. As we spend the majority of the film very close to these two young boys, we feel every longing look and touch, and observe how  they both react. To preserve the sense of intimacy vital to the short’s success, the director and his DP decided to use long-focus lenses, shooting on two cameras simultaneously to get the required shots, without breaking the moment.

With its World Premiere at the 2022 edition of the Berlinale, in the Generation section, Le variabili dipendenti went on to be selected at multiple festivals, including Drama International Short Film Festival in Greece, where it won a Special Jury Prize. It was also presented with the Best Short Film prize at the 2023 David di Donatello Awards