Second Season of RAI/HBO Elena Ferrante Series ‘My Brilliant Friend’ Unveiled

“My Brilliant Friend – The Story of a New Name,” the second season of Italian pubcaster RAI and HBO’s TV series based on Elena Ferrante’s bestselling “Neapolitan Novels,” was unveiled on Tuesday in Italy where the hotly anticipated show will start airing on RAI in February.

“New Name” will launch on RAI on Feb. 10, after a 3-day event release in Italian movie theaters, just as Ferrante-fever is being stoked. The mysterious Italian author has a new book out, “The Lying Life of Adults,” which has become an immediate bestseller since its November publication locally. The English translation of Ferrante’s new novel will reportedly be hitting international bookstores in June.

The second serving of the Ferrante show will air in the U.S. on HBO in March.

In the show’s second season protagonists Lila and Elena, now more grown up, venture out of Naples’ Luzzati quarter, where most of the first installment is set. Lila and Elena are sixteen, “and both feel they are stuck in a rut,” according to HBO’s press notes. Lila has just got married, but in taking her husband’s surname, it’s as if she has lost herself. Elena is a model student in Pisa but during her friend’s wedding reception, she realizes she is happy neither inside the Luzzati quarter nor outside it. “During a holiday on Ischia, the two friends meet up with old childhood friend Nino Sarratore once again, who has since become a promising university student. The seemingly casual encounter changes the nature of their bond forever,” according to the HBO synopsis.

One big difference this time around is that two of the eight episodes, the fourth and fifth ones set in Ischia, are directed by a woman, Alice Rohrwacher (“Happy as Lazzaro”) working with her customary cinematographer Helene Louvart.  The series’ main director is Saverio Costanzo who created the show after being chosen by Ferrante – who has input on the screenplay – for this task.

RAI Fiction chief Eleonora Andreatta at a press conference Tuesday at RAI’s Rome headquarters underlined how from the start new themes come to the fore in “New Name” such as “sexual initiation, the fear and folly of falling in love, the rapport with one’s body, unhealthy family relationships that are sometimes terribly violent, the refusal of ones [social] condition and aspiration for a better life.” Andreatta also called the lavish Ferrante-based show a major challenge in terms of storytelling, production, and cultural enrichment that is “fully coherent” with RAI’s mission as a public service broadcaster.

Producer Lorenzo Mieli said that “thanks to Costanzo’s vision” the show’s second season makes a tonal transition “from the grey compression of Neorealism in the ‘50s to the elated, jumpy, liberating explosion of the ‘60s.”

Mieli also underlined the importance of having Rorhwacher female’s gaze this time.

“She managed to remain loyal to the form created by Saverio whilst at the same time adding a viewpoint that was liberal, powerful and feminine, and for this very reason essential”.

“My Brilliant Friend – The Story of a New Name” is a The Apartment and Wildside (both Italian units of Fremantle) and Fandango production, produced by Mieli, Mario Gianani and Domenico Procacci in collaboration with Rai Fiction and HBO Entertainment and in co-production with Mowe and Umedia.


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