Domenico Procacci’s Fandango, the Rome shingle that originated the “Gomorrah” and “My Brilliant Friend” skeins, will be at Series Mania’s Co-Pro Pitching Forum with “The Impossible She,” about Neapolitan aristocrat Maria Teresa de Filippis who during the 1950s became the world’s first female Formula 1 driver.
The only Italian project selected for these pitches, “The Impossible She” germinated from a collaboration between young director Lorenzo Sportiello –– whose credits include Netflix’s Italian original “Summertime” –– and documaker Simone Manetti who both worked with prominent screenwriter Federica Pontremoli (“We Have a Pope”). Sportiello and Manetti will each direct several of the show’s eight episodes.
“The Impossible She” is set in early postwar Italy when women have just won the right to vote. De Filippis, who was raised amid the lace, privilege and conformism of Neapolitan nobility, drives her first car and becomes totally taken by her father’s passion for race car driving. This unleashes a rebel streak inside her that makes her feel empowered. So De Filippis decides to drop everything to follow her dream: to become a Formula 1 driver.
“She’s living on the edge of two worlds: the 19th century aristocratic milieu in which she was raised and the contemporary world,” said Fandango senior development exec. Laura Buffoni. She added that Maria Teresa de Filippis embodies “two different conceptions of womanhood” and noted the show’s similarities with HBO’s “Queen’s Gambit” since they both feature women who are shattering gender barriers in a male-dominated sport.
That said, “The Impossible She” will be “more fast-paced” than “Queen’s Gambit,” according to its creators.
“Maria Teresa battles the patriarchy with real, decisive actions; she shatters prejudices on the track and overtakes inequality curve after curve, at the literal risk to her own life,” according to the project’s synopsis.
Buffoni pointed out that “in those years there were plenty of deaths on the race track.” A love story with a risk-taking male race car driver named Luigi who, incidentally, clashes with Enzo Ferrari, is also weaved into the narrative. And there is also a female mechanic who grew up poor who and forges a special bond with the protofeminist protag, as a key secondary character.
De Filippis participated in five Formula 1 world championship races debuting on May 18 1958 in a Maserati 250F, but scored no championship points. Though her Formula 1 racing career was brief, she won other car races and is clearly considered a groundbreaking pioneer in the sport.
Fandango has been in contact with the family of De Filippis who died in 2016. Her husband, who is still alive, and her progeny have been “very generous,” she said, providing the show’s production with three containers full of “materials, including super 8 reels and letters from her admirers.”