Rosa Maria Mauceri
How did you start this project. How long did it take from the initial idea to have it finished?
Regarding the start of this project, it all began during the writing of my novel, which later provided inspiration for my short film. While I was writing in 2020, I had a clear vision of the images in my mind. The story deals with a sadly real tale. I am searching for my sister, who has a name partly similar to mine, Rosa Antonina. She disappeared without a trace when she was still a child in the late '60s. I discovered her existence about twenty years ago, and this discovery has shaken my life. I started an in-depth search and found out that my mother was deceived. After reporting everything to the authorities, I found myself practically abandoned (so to speak). I decided to use art, writing, and cinema in the hope that my sister, Rosa Antonina, can see herself in us. The film also features my mother, my brother, and myself, and I played myself. Perhaps through this project, my sister can find a connection with us. She disappeared the day after her birth, on July 1, 1968, which is why the film takes us back in time to the evocative '60s/'70s. The short film was written and organized within two weeks, and we filmed the scenes over two full days. It was a marathon. As mentioned before, my time is limited as I am already busy with my job, so I use my weekends and evenings to plan and write my novels.
Has it been a self-financed project or did you find private financing?
I want to clarify that this is a self-funded initiative based on my personal funds. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to engage in other activities that financially support this project. My savings are primarily dedicated to art and research, which I deeply believe in.
Many filmmakers finance the entire project, finishing it in their spare time while studying or working etc. This makes it a very wear-and-tear process and takes a long time to finish. Even many of these projects never end up being assembled. In your case, how has the process been?
In my case, as I mentioned earlier, I have another occupation as a manager in a company, and I have a team and a set of tasks that require my commitment. However, for me, this project is a true mission. Through this short film, I am not only searching for my sister but also conveying important messages, such as denouncing domestic violence, including that against children. I put my whole self into this project, showing that there is no need to be ashamed of being a victim.
As for time, I can say that while many people choose to engage in sports after work hours or during weekends, I dedicate my evenings and weekends to writing and pursuing my goals. For me, this is a form of personal well-being, an opportunity to immerse myself in my own world and reconnect with myself.
Tell us the best moment and the worst experienced during the process of finishing the project.
Initially, not considering cinema as a prospect for my project, my expectations regarding festivals were rather modest, if not nonexistent. I had planned to use social media as a platform to spread my short film. However, one day I discovered FilmFreeway and decided to submit my work on the platform, and from there, an extraordinary adventure began.My first festival was an online event in Rome. I still remember the joy I felt when receiving numerous awards in different categories. This inspired me to participate in the Hollywood festival and other festivals, both online (due to the pandemic) and in person. For me, festivals represent a unique showcase, a platform that allows emerging artists to showcase their work. I am deeply grateful to festivals because they provide the opportunity for visibility.
So far, my short film has received over 50 awards in various categories, including the prestigious recognition for Best Female Director. I see cinema as a new perspective where I can invest my creativity. This honor fills me with gratitude and strengthens my determination to continue my cinematic artistic journey. However, I still have much to learn.
I remember the emotion that pervaded during the filming. Often, both the crew and the actors and extras were moved by the cries and tears during the interpretation of certain scenes. However, the most challenging scene for me was the one involving an object connected to the pain, inhumanity, and abuse endured. This object evoked a lot of suffering.
The best moment was when we shot the final scene. It was particularly significant because I had obtained permission to film in the archives that contained the record of my sister, Rosa Antonina, who had an important role in the story. Later, the responsible person from the Acireale cultural department refused to grant us access. Fortunately, I didn't give up and reasoned with them, convincing them to accept the filming as planned according to the written authorization received from the municipality. A person was assigned to monitor during the shoot.
So, in addition to the fatigue due to the 40-degree heat without air conditioning, due to the noise it could produce and pose a problem for audio recording, we were also exhausted but happy to have completed all the scenes.
All eyes were on me, from the photography crew to the actors. I couldn't disappoint anyone. As a director, I felt somewhat like in my position as a manager in a company, where I have to be a reference point for my team, a representative figure. I had no right to collapse, even in the most challenging moments on the set. I believe that, for my first cinematic experience, I did well. It has been an extraordinary experience that taught me a lot.
Do you have any other projects in mind? If so, can you tell us something about them?
Certainly, I published my mother's biography in April 2023. I still need to complete the second part of "A Stolen Truth," and then I have plans to develop the screenplay for my feature film. It could become a great film or even a series; the potential is there!
What do you expect from a film festival? Where do you think they should improve?
If initially, I hoped that my work could attract attention and convey a message, now I see cinema as a new perspective. I consider it a world of free communication and diverse expressions. I love telling stories and have often advocated that many words are not always necessary to convey different emotions. I expect my work to be understood. It doesn't have to be the best because every story told has its value. Festivals should be sensitive in their communication with participants, using a personal language instead of automated emails. Each person invests a lot in their work, especially considering that many of us self-finance our projects. I believe that if a festival receives many submissions, it should organize itself according to its scale and properly manage the administrative aspects. I find it sad that some events ask winners to buy the award; I think they could make an effort to invest, for example, through sponsors.
Now we would like to know more about you.
How do you define yourself as a filmmaker?
I feel like the captain of a ship.
Your best virtue and your worst flaw?
My best virtue is attention to the smallest details and the ability to envision what I have in mind realized. My flaw is that I don't let go until I achieve the goal, which can sometimes make me less likable.
What percentage do you dedicate to?
-Work with actors: 100%
-Planning of the shots with the director of photography: 100%
-Sound design: 100%
I couldn't define one as less important than the other. It's like missing an ingredient in a recipe; the taste will never be what was intended. Behind each category, there is an incredible art that, when combined, ensures that a film is made in the best possible way.
Tell me three favorite films:
I loved and dreamt with "Pretty Woman," "Dirty Dancing," and "The Perfect Friend."
I don't have a specific name.
For you, a good movie should have?
A good film should include all the ingredients mentioned earlier. I like to make the locations, sounds, music, actors, and extras speak through their expressions and always accompany them with short dialogues that remain easily impressed in the viewers' minds. This is just my modest opinion on how I would relate to cinema; it may be liked or disliked. It will be my own style, just like my writing.