INTERVIEW: Alba Rohrwacher & Laura Bispuri Discuss Their Latest Film, Italian Cinema, And The Joy Of Collaborating

Two women walk down a street - the light is bright and airy. Between them they are carrying the body of a peacock, cradling him carefully in their arms. One has red hair, wearing a striped blue and white top - the other is wearing an eggshell blue jumper, and has a red hairband.
Courtesy of Vivo Films, Match Factory Productions

The pairing of director Laura Bispuri and Alba Rohrwacher is one that has moved from the rugged mountains of Albania in Sworn Virgin, to a family melodrama in Sardinia with Daughter of Mine – in their latest collaboration, The Peacock’s Paradise, a family of big personalities (and a peacock) come together to celebrate the birthday of their matriarch. Nothing, not even the meal, goes to plan.

Screen Queens sat down with Laura and Alba as part of the Made in Italy festival to talk about the film, working together, and Alba’s other film Three Floors.

Screen Queens: Peacock’s Paradise is about a large family with a lot of different, complicated dynamics and relationships – would you categorise them as functional or dysfunctional?

Laura Bispuri: I don’t like categories – the film is about how this family, who are very open at the start of the film, who talk over each other, and don’t listen, became more naked with each other after the unexpected event. They start to listen, and become deeper in their relationships, and the family at the end of the film is not the same as the one in the beginning.

SQ: You’ve worked together on two previous feature films – what do you enjoy most about your collaboration?

Alba Rohrwacher: When we did the first film together, Sworn Virgin, Laura really wanted me as the protagonist and initially I said ‘no way’, but because she was so focused on having me in the role it made me brave enough to accept the role, to go to Albania and study the language. The character of Hana will stay with me forever, and after that movie something changed for me.

I trust her completely, and she trusts me – I feel like I can do anything with her.

LB: Sworn Virgin is an incredible film for both of us, it has a piece of ours hearts. Working in the Northern Albanian mountains, there was a lot of difficulties and we became very close. For me, Alba is like a musical instrument when we finished that film I wanted to try a different character completely in order to discover the nuances of her, because she’s a wonderful actress.

SQ: Tell us a bit more about your character in Peacock’s Paradise.

AR: She is completely different to the other two we’ve done before, because she’s a fragile soul – someone a little spaced out but in a tender way. She is constantly trying to be accepted into this family, trying to be funny but no one understands her, but she has a different sensibility to the rest of them.

SQ: Your character Monica in Three Floors shares similar traits to Adelina – she’s on the outside of this little society in the building that the film takes place in. What did you enjoy about exploring that side of her character?

AR: They have some similar points, but where Adelina is full of sunshine, Monica is dark with no sense of irony. She is so lonely that she begins to imagine things and people. Nanny Moretti, as a director, works in a very intense way with a lot of repetition and focus – this process let me be fully authentic within the character. It was an incredible experience.

SQ: We’re here for the Made in Italy film festival, celebrating everything about Italian film. What are you most excited about for the future of Italian cinema?

AR: There are a lot of great directors and voices at the moment – it’s a very important moment for Italian cinema.

LB: A lot of directors in my generation are really pushing [Italian cinema] in a [positive] direction. I love directors like Jonas Carpignano, and I’m very positive for the future of Italian cinema.

Three Floors is released in UK cinemas on 18th March. Peacock’s Paradise played as part of Cinema Made in Italy.

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