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D’Innocenzo Brothers Talk Crime Series ‘Dostoevskij’ and Working With Kanye West on ‘Talking/Once Again’ Music Video: ‘We Wanted to Leave Stardom Out of It’

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Twin directors Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo, who are known to Berlin Film Festival audiences for stylishly gritty dramas “Boys Cry” and “Bad Tales,” are back with eclectic detective series “Dostoevskij,” premiering in the fest’s Berlinale Special section.

Set in the stark Roman hinterland, the six-episode show — produced by Sky Studios with Rome’s Paco Cinematografica — stars Filippo Timi (“Vincere,” “The Eight Mountains”) as Enzo Vitello, a policeman whose mind is warped by an incident involving his daughter Ambra. He winds up on the trail of a ruthless serial killer, nicknamed Dostoevskij because of the letters full of gruesome details that he leaves at crime scenes. Haunted by the killer’s words, the cop embarks on a dangerous solo investigation, getting closer and closer to a disturbing existential truth.

Courtesy Sky

“Dostoevskij,” which marks the D’Innocenzo brothers’ TV debut, stemmed from Sky Studios Italia chief Nils Hartmann asking them if they wanted to create a show and giving them carte blanche from a narrative standpoint.

“We just asked them what genre they wanted and they said: ‘a thriller,’” recounts Fabio, and then “in half an hour we wrote the core of ‘Dostoevskij’ on a page. Obviously, writing the screenplay was much more complicated.”

In terms of references for “Dostoevskij,” Damiano says that “we had none, which is an approach that I strongly advise to any film director who is transitioning to TV.” That said, the directors tried to divide the six-episode screenplay into three acts, just like a film.

Interestingly, Sky did not ask them for any scene breakdowns, nor did they attempt to micromanage the show’s production in any other way. “Hartmann and his team were like a good soccer coach who understands that as artists — if we can use that word — we are the types of players who need to feel at ease on the field without someone breathing down our back,” Damiano says.

As for casting, Timi playing the role of Enzo was crucial. Although they wrote the show with Timi in mind, the directors asked the actor to lose between 10 and 15 kilos because the tormented investigator “suffers from gastric disorders,” Fabio says. “We also wanted his whole body to be as craggy and bare as the landscape in which the show is set.”

“Dostoevskij” marks the D’Innocenzo brothers’ first collaboration with cinematographer Matteo Cocco, with whom the duo also recently shot the music video for “Talking/Once Again” by Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign, which features a verse from West’s 10-year-old daughter.

“It’s a very intimate video between a father and a daughter and we just wanted to leave stardom out of it,” Damiano says. “It’s really about being human.”

As for working with West, Damiano says “he is truly a great source of inspiration for us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person work so hard, non-stop. He never sleeps. It’s incredible. And the amount of physical strength he puts into his work is amazing.”

Shooting the music video was intense. “As you well know, [in Italy] on a 10-hour shoot you get some rest,” he adds. “But Ye didn’t seem to need it.” So they just kept going.

Watch the video for “Talking/Once Again” below.