Croatia’s 4Film Boards Rodolfo Bisatti’s Education Drama ‘On Life’

Croatia’s 4Film has joined France’s Ciné Sud Promotion and Italy’s Kineofilm on Italian director Rodolfo Bisatti’s next feature film, “On Life,” starring Andree Ruth Shammah and Paolo Bonacelli.

Bisatti, who co-wrote and helmed the acclaimed 2020 drama “To the Unknown God,” will direct “On Life” from a screenplay he his writing with actress-producer Laura Pellicciari.

The film, which is set to start shooting in northeastern Italy on Aug. 7, centers on an aging countess (Shammah) who sets up a new type of school with a group of disenfranchised yet gifted children in her spacious villa.

Palazzo Panigai-Ovio in Pordenone

The producers have found an ideal 17th-century villa — the Palazzo Panigai-Ovio — in the northeastern province of Pordenone, about 100 kilometers west of Trieste, where Kineofilm is based. Bisatti also plans to shoot outdoor scenes in nearby Veneto.

The film’s cast includes Valeria Cavalli and Pamela Villoresi as well as Pellicciari.

Ciné Sud’s Thierry Lenouvel joined the project early on as co-producer and was recently joined by Anita Juka, head of Zagreb-based 4Film.

For Bisatti and Pellicciari, the project reflects their own interest in education.

Pellicciari noted that the Italian government’s Digital Republic initiative, which aims to reduce the digital divide and promote education on future technologies, has led to the understanding that “very young teenagers are the most skilled teachers you may find.”

The story of “On Life” — which was inspired in part by observations of distance learning during the periods of lockdown — is already happening, she added, noting how older people depend on younger people to navigate an increasingly digital world. In some cases the relationships become reciprocal, with younger people teaching older folks about the world of immersive devices while at the same time benefiting from the experience and knowledge of the older generation.

The changing of roles is actually renewing an old teaching method, Pellicciari said. “This new kind of teaching comes from ‘ancient’ roots.” It is also seen in the methods and educational philosophies of Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, Lorenzo Milani, Mario Lodi, Alberto Manzi and Gianni Rodari, she noted.

Bisatti and Pellicciari have won the support of Italy’s National Organization for Digital Transformation (ENTD), which promotes the ethical development and expansion of digital technology.

As part of the collaboration, Bisatti even presented the film project to Italy’s Chamber of Deputies in Rome on Feb. 6 during a conference on innovation and the technological challenges facing society.

Bisatti explained that technology had “saved” many film directors during that period and noted that technical innovation could create a more democratic future through widely available and accessible equipment.

Schools could also benefit from such a development, Pellicciari added. Instead of teachers delivering lessons to students, new technology offers the opportunity of an educational system based on reciprocity, she stressed, pointing out that technology could help bring together “different seasons of life” by connecting Generation Z with Baby Boomers.

Bisatti’s latest work, the recently completed teen love story “Afar Together,” examines similar themes of youth and technology. The experimental film stars Sara Porcella and Leo Cattaneo as Maddalena and Aghi, a young couple who enjoy an online relationship. While Aghi wants to finally meet his online love in person, Maddalena remains content to keep their relationship remote.

Kineofilm’s activities in education extend to a number of ongoing projects related to film, theater and audiovisual storytelling, including literacy and filmmaking workshops.

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