Italian actor and director Valeria Golino (“The Morning Show,” “Miele”) is set to make her debut as a TV series director with “The Art of Joy,” an erotically charged female empowerment drama set in early 20th-century Sicily and produced by Sky Studios.
Golino’s high-end period skein about a Sicilian young woman named Modesta, born into an impoverished family in early 1900 and driven by a strong belief that she’s destined for a better life, was announced during a Sky Italy presentation in Rome where the pay-TV operator unveiled its upcoming lineup of 60 Italian originals – series and films – for 2022, most of which have been already announced.
The presentation’s standout, revealed for the first time, is “The Art of Joy,” which is based on an epic, and highly erotic, feminist novel by the late Italian author and actor Goliarda Sapienza.
“Art of Joy” has been a longtime passion project for Golino, who was very young when she went to Hollywood and starred in films such as “Rain Man” and then returned to Italy as an A-list actor. She debuted as a director with “Miele,” which in 2013 won praise in Cannes. She returned to the Croisette as a helmer in 2018 with “Euphoria.” This year, Golino presided over the Cannes Un Certain Regard jury.
At the presentation, Golino recounted that she met the “Art of Joy” author when she was 18, a time when Sapienza was writing the book, which was published posthumously.
Golino noted that “it’s become a cult novel in Italy, but also in France and has been translated in many other languages [including English]” and praised Sky for boarding what she called “a very racy story.”
Shooting is set to start this year in Sicily on “Art of Joy,” which is written by Golino with a team comprising Francesca Marciano (“Miele”), Valia Santella (“The Traitor”), Luca Infascelli (“The Catholic School”) and Stefano Sardo (“1994”). Casting is still being decided.
Other highlights of the Sky presentation by Nils Hartmann, executive VP of Sky Studios Germany and Italy, and Antonella d’Errico, executive VP of programming for Sky Italia, included impressive first look footage of upcoming spaghetti western series “Django,” starring Noomi Rapace, Nicholas Pinnock and Matthias Schoenaerts, which director Francesca Comencini called “a universal story with a narrative that celebrates diversity and minorities”; immigration-themed skein “Unwanted,” directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (“Downfall”) about a tourist-packed cruise ship that rescues a group of refugees from the sea; and the film “The Hanging Sun,” a Jo Nesbo adaptation directed by Francesco Carrozzini starring Peter Mullan, Charles Dance, Jessica Brown Findlay and Alessandro Borghi.
The standout among Sky’s docs out of Italy is “Sergio Leone,” a portrait of the iconic director known for the so-called “Dollars Trilogy” of spaghetti westerns and also for his final masterpiece “Once Upon a Time in America.” The Leone doc is directed by Francesco Zippel (“Friedkin Uncut”) and will feature interviews with Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.