Crialese appeared at the festival alongside Penélope Cruz to present his new film L’immensità.
The movie is set in 1970s Rome and centres on a family where the eldest daughter identifies as a boy, causing tensions between her mum (played by Cruz) and her abusive dad.
Crialese said his experiences helped shape his latest movie, adding: “The inspiration was my childhood and my story that is being transposed and reinterpreted.
“I tried to find the good interpretation in it. I didn’t want it to be self-referential. I didn’t want to talk about just me. As I try to do with every film I make, I’ve tried to somehow represent in a broader way the topics I really care for like migration.
"The migration of a soul. That means a transition from one state to another one.”
Speaking about his transition publicly for the first time, Crialese said: "I was born biologically a woman, but that does not mean that I don't have in me a huge part [that is a] female character. That is probably the best part of me.”
He went on: “We don’t decide to do a journey such as mine. You are born that way. I don’t have memories where I was ever perceived differently than I am. So there is no choice about it.
“You come into the world just the way you are. Then the choice is to continue believing in yourself and in your journey or to die. There are now alternatives so when we talk of choice, that is how I understand choice.”
Talking about her role in Crialese’s highly autobiographical movie, Cruz said: “I’ve played so many mothers. And even when I was very young with Pedro, I’ve made seven films and in five of them I play a mother and he’s always seen me as a mother and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
“I have a very strong maternal instinct. I’m really fascinated by what happens inside any family. Things happen everywhere. Different things but all fascinating. Every single movie I make could be made around a family.”
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