Following its acclaimed 2020 drama “To the Unknown God,” Italy’s Kineofilm is developing a feature about an aging countess who sets up a new type of school with a group of disenfranchised yet gifted children in her spacious 16th-century villa.
Kineofilm’s Rodolfo Bisatti, who co-wrote and helmed “To the Unknown God,” will direct the new film from a screenplay he his writing with actress-producer Laura Pellicciari.
The film follows Olimpia, a woman in her sixties who lives alone in her villa until she opens it up to take in a group of abandoned young people. Although suffering hardships, the children are gifted in their own ways and eager to share their skills and knowledge.
With the 500-year-old villa in extreme need of renovation, however, the countess is facing financial problems and is considering an offer from city planners who have their own designs for the beautiful building.
Looking at her talented children, she comes up with the idea of creating a learning space at the villa, On Life – the Children’s University, where the kids can teach the older generation and also demonstrate that they have the skills to take part in society. The local authorities take a different view, however.
The film examines the challenges of education and the growing distance between the generations, Pellicciari tells Variety. It looks at the economic necessities of nurturing children’s innate talents and the disparities inherent in today’s digital age. What comes very natural for the young is very difficult for the old, she notes.
Kineofilm, which presented “On Life” at this year’s EFM in Berlin, is partnering on the project with Thierry Lenouvel of Paris-based Ciné Sud Promotion. The companies are currently working out the budget and financing for the film, which is scheduled to shoot in Italy’s Veneto region in 2023. The producers are looking to cast a high-profile actress in the role of the countess and they may also seek a German co-producer for the film.
Kineofilm partnered with René Asch of Berlin-based Films in Motion on “To the Unknown God,” which is currently traveling the festival circuit.
The award-winning film, which revolves around the end of life, palliative care and embracing the joy of living, stars Pellicciari as a nurse who has dedicated her career to the terminally ill at a hospice while still grieving the loss of her daughter eight years earlier.
“To the Unknown God” and “On Life” both represent the kinds of films Bisatti and Pellicciari seek to make at Kineofilm. The Trieste-based company, established by Bisatti in 2009, focuses on stories that deal with social matters, says Pellicciari. “We don’t have to invent anything, we just have to train our eyes to see.” It’s not so much about entertaining people but rather about making them think about their own lives, she adds.
“It often seems like we are heading toward crisis in society. I think it’s quite urgent to make people aware about the fact that we have the opportunities to change the landscape.”