Songwriter Diane Warren said she named the original song contender “lo Si (Seen)” after reading the script for “The Life Ahead,” where she noticed many of the characters were not seen.
In the Variety Streaming Room moderated by Artisans editor Jazz Tangcay, the filmmakers behind “The Life Ahead”(now streaming on Netflix) revealed how they teamed up, the food they ate in Bari while filming and how the music composition matches the story.
In addition to Warren, writer and director Edoardo Ponti, singer Laura Pausini and executive music supervisor Bonnie Greenberg were also part of the conversation.
This was Ponti’s first film since “Coming & Going” in 2011. When asked why he waited almost a decade to release a new feature film, Ponti said every movie he makes is a chapter of his life and has to mean something special.
“Every movie has to reflect a part of you,” Ponti said. “It wasn’t easy to find something that touched me as deeply and as emotionally as ‘The Life Ahead,’ given its themes of tolerance, empathy and humanity.”
The story follows the blossoming relationship between an aging Holocaust survivor (Sophia Loren) running a daycare business and a bitter young boy from Senegal named Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) that keeps getting himself in trouble. Ponti said while the two characters could not be more culturally different, they are just two opposite sides of the same coin.
“They were raised on the streets without a family, defined by pain and loss, but in the end and most importantly, defined by hope and resilience,” Ponti said.
Ponti said he decided to cast his mother, Loren, as Madam Rosa after hearing her voice in his head while reading the character’s dialogue in the book written by Romain Gary.
“I like to present my mother the way that I know her, and this character was a perfect opportunity for that,” Ponti said. “A perfect world to both contextualize my mother as the wonderful actress that she is, but also give the audience something new.”
Warren spoke about how she wrote the lyrics and put together “lo Si.” She said that the chorus was really fast and literally wrote itself, but the rest of it was like being in the middle of a forest and finding a way out.
“Like, I have this cool house I built here, but how do I get in and how do I get out?,” Warren said. “And so I started playing the chords of what became the verse and it felt really magical to me. Part of it will come really easy, and you’ll be almost done, but there will be like two lines that take three days.”
Pausini, who has always wanted to sing a “Diane Warren song” recalled how she was shaking when they first met.
“I mean, she’s Diane Warren and I’m just a singer always in search of music for living, for breathing, to be authentic and you always want the best for your voice and your heart,” Pausini said. “Diane is a dream, still a dream for me.”
As a tribute to Warren, Pausini serenaded Warren with some of her all-time classic hits.
Watch the full conversation above.