For the past eight years Leonardo Ricagni has been to the Cannes
advertising festival, spending all week in a darkened auditorium viewing
ads from around the world.
Although he likes a drink at the Martinez bar in the evenings, Ricagni
is clearly dedicated to his work as a commercials director. He comments:
‘Cannes is a useful place to see what is happening around the world and
who is doing the interesting work at that time, although you also have
to sit through a lot of shit.’
Ricagni recently moved to the UK to pursue his vocation and signed up
with Eclipse. His work draws on his love of film, photography, art,
theatre and rock and roll. ‘Advertising allows you to make brave films,’
His favourite work from his own reel is a South American Whirlpool
commercial, which he likes for its combination of the ordinary and the
surreal, and an ad for Belmont cigarettes through Grey London.
Also lurking among his best moments is a Gitanes Blondes ad for Foote
Cone Belding in France, of which Ricagni says: ‘It looks at Paris with a
South American eye.’
Ricagni, who comes from Uruguay, has an outsider’s eye which informs his
film-making. At 17, he went to New York to study film for two years and
in 1989 started out on a a four-year spell in Barcelona, where he
directed a number of commercials, including a Champagne spot starring
the former Superman actor, Christopher Reeve.
Now 31, Ricagni spends most of his time in London. He loves the culture,
but he also likes to return regularly to South America. He explains: ‘I
get my energy from there, from nature. The combination of Latin and
London culture lets me see life in stereo.’
His films betray this love of the visual, concentrating on interesting,
beautiful, unusual and surreal images.
Ricagni says he disapproves of ads based around a gag with the product
bolted on at the end. ‘I love humour, but only if it comes with an
interesting visual look.’