Comcast-backed Sky is making a new Italian original titled “Anna,” centered on a 13-year-old Sicilian girl who must contend with a viral contagion that has killed off all adults on the island.
The series, which has echoes of “The Walking Dead” and “Hunger Games,” is based on a book by the same title by author-turned-director Niccolò Ammaniti, who previously helmed Sky series “The Miracle.”
Shooting will start in mid-October with Ammaniti as showrunner and principal director. He also penned the screenplay in tandem with prominent Italian scribe Francesca Manieri (“Luna Nera”). Ace Sicilian cinematographer Daniele Ciprì will handle lensing duties and direct some insert segments.
“Anna” is being produced by Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Mieli for Fremantle’s Wildside in co-production with Arte France and Fremantle-owned Kwai. It will air as a Sky exclusive in Italy and possibly on the paybox in other territories. Fremantle is handling global rights.
In “Anna,” the titular character first tries to feed and protect her young brother after a virus kills off everyone over the age of 14. Then, when he is kidnapped, she sets off on a search across Sicily, fending off feral dogs and crazed child gangs, some of which she falls in with. Anna is guided in her quest by a book that her mother left with instructions for making it in the world. But along the way “she discovers that the rules of the past no longer work. She has to devise new ones,” according to a synopsis in a Sky statement.
“The young orphans live in a Sicily where past and present are legacies of the adult world and nature takes back what belongs to her,” Ammaniti said in the statement. Anna “imagines a future, rejecting the laws of survival, nurturing hope and nurturing her memory of the grownups.”
In an interview with Variety, Sky Italia’s Executive Vice President of Programming Nicola Maccanico praised the value of the show’s basic idea and concept. “‘Anna’ is the metaphor of a world where the superficiality of adults has left kids alone to try and resolve its problems,” he said, noting that this is “what’s happening in our society today.”
“What Niccolò has zeroed in on is that adults are consigning a useless world to kids,” Wildside co-chief Mario Gianani told Variety. “Ultimately, a bit simplistically, it’s what we are seeing with Greta [Thunberg] – kids accusing parents for the world they are being left with.”
Gianani said that the contemporary fable with horror and thriller elements marks a new genre for Italian TV but that it will strike a positive note. “It’s not just the apocalypse; it’s the apocalypse that leads to a rebirth, which makes it more interesting and universal.”
Olivier Wotling, head of drama for Arte France, said he was happy to partner again with Ammaniti after the success of “The Miracle” in France.