Anna Elena Pepe, an all-round artist as a screenwriter, director, and actress, presented her latest project, Miss Agata, at the Venice Film Festival. The short film won the Best Screenplay award at the Starlight International Cinema Award. In just 20 minutes, Miss Agata touches on various themes such as gender differences, violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, and integration. The story follows Agata, a funny girl who escapes from a toxic relationship and finds solace in her friendship with Nabil (Yahya Ceesay), helping her move forward and overcome the trauma.
Anna Elena Pepe began her career as an actress and later decided to study screenwriting. She has always enjoyed writing, and her time at the Guildhall School of Drama in London encouraged her to delve deeper into the world of writing. In England, actors are often also writers, and this became an integral part of her artistic journey.
When asked about the differences between British and Italian drama schools, Pepe believes that it’s not the country that makes the difference, but rather the project itself. Working with talented directors and being part of a well-produced production guarantees a certain quality of work. In Italy, there is a strong tradition of director-led theater, while in England, the focus is more on the author. This distinction stems from the different theatrical traditions in each country.
With Miss Agata, Pepe aims to introduce this new model to Italy, where she serves as the actress, director, and screenwriter. The film tackles serious topics such as post-traumatic stress disorder but presents them in a dramedy format. It begins with a seemingly comedic tone, only to reveal the underlying trauma. Pepe believes that comedy can help the audience connect with the characters on a deeper level by unexpectedly reaching their hearts. This approach has been successfully used in Italian comedy in the past.
Pepe’s characters are often unconventional, reflecting her own experience as an actress encountering roles written by men. She wanted to bring a sense of normality to her characters, making them relatable to female viewers. Miss Agata has resonated with audiences who have experienced trauma themselves and felt understood through the character of Agata.
Despite being only 20 minutes long, Miss Agata tackles complex themes such as toxic relationships, mental health, and prejudice. Pepe started from a central scene in the film and worked backward to develop the characters, ensuring that they all led to that pivotal moment. Although Pepe is already working on turning it into a feature-length film, she wants to ensure that the original spirit of the short film remains intact.
The next step for Miss Agata is continuing to be presented at film festivals. Afterward, Pepe hopes to find distribution on a streaming platform. She is also developing a new feature-length project that takes place in both Italy and England. Pepe is involved in a series called Concordia, directed by Barbara Eder, which will be released in the autumn.
In conclusion, Anna Elena Pepe’s creativity is fueled by the desire to give her own shape to the world. Her work, including Miss Agata, aims to address gender differences, integration, and her own experience as an immigrant. Pepe advises young aspiring actors, directors, and screenwriters to tell stories based on their unique experiences and to always be respectful and professional as they build their reputations. She emphasizes that this industry is a marathon, not a sprint, and each day’s actions contribute to building a successful career.
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