One year later, wow has it been a year already? How has one’s identity changed after a year of living in a new country or a year after remission? Filmmaker Lucia Mauro takes us on a journey to Italy to discover what really happens a year after remission. Are you still the same?
‘One Year Later’ Synopsis
One Year Later, a new film by Lucia Mauro, tells the story of an American woman, recently recovered from a serious illness, who learns to savor the essence of life through a cathartic trip to the Italian Alps. Liz, a dedicated teacher of comparative literature, struggles with her post-cancer life and changing priorities. Despite her husband’s well- meaning over-protectiveness, she takes a trip with their friends – an American couple living in Milan – to Italy. When her friends assume the role of worried caregivers and suffocate her with a jam-packed itinerary, she escapes to the Alps to find her space. Here, Liz is able to reassert her independence. She learns to go forward, and return to her family, with a renewed sense of self — free of compliance, guilt and obligation.
Lucia was inspired to write this film loosely based on her experience with her bout with Ovarian Caner. This interview is not about her bout it is about Lucia’s experience and work as a woman in film, a filmmaker
Interview with Filmmaker Lucia Mauro
What is your professional training as a director/writer?
I believe we are all on different trajectories that lead us to where we’re supposed to be at any given time in our lives. My life has essentially led up to telling stories through the medium of film. In addition to being a lover of film since childhood (first hooked when I saw Albert Lamorisse’s magical short film, The Red Balloon), I’ve been active in the live performing and visual arts (going back to my own ballet, theater and piano studies). I’m fortunate to have had a long career as a writer/author, journalist, theater/dance critic, arts/culture writer, lecturer, photographer (with an emphasis on Italian architecture and chiaroscuro), and Italy cultural historian. My total immersion in those fields allowed me to interview and observe numerous artists in all disciplines. I work very closely with actors and stress honesty and naturalism. And, because of my interdisciplinary background, I emphasize collaboration and pay close attention to every detail — from color palette, to lighting, to music, camera movement and much more. My films address the ideas of healing, resilience and human connection. Both In My Brother’s Shoes and One Year Later are set in Chicago and in Italy. Though my cinematic inspirations are vast, I have been greatly influenced by Italy’s Neorealist filmmakers Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica and Luchino Visconti.
When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
In my heart, I probably always wanted to be a filmmaker but did not realize it until more recently. It’s been a true harmonic convergence, beginning exactly ten years ago when I wrote the first draft of a screenplay on the life of 19th century Brazilian revolutionary Anita Garibaldi and pulled together my actor colleagues for readings and workshops. Then, a few years later, while meeting with film contacts in Rome, Italy, I unexpectedly met a young man in St. Peter’s Square who inspired my first film, the narrative short In My Brother’s Shoes, which follows the brother of a fallen U.S. Marine on a pilgrimage to Rome in his sibling’s combat boots. I shot it in Chicago and Rome with a small crew and lead actor Danny McCarthy for one week in May 2014. It won Best Short film at the 2015 International Vatican Film Festival and was featured in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner. Then I moved on to a one-hour feature, One Year Later, and the momentum continues.
How did you choose your cast/crew?
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to do all my own casting. In fact, I write my films for specific actors. That’s because of my many years exposed to the outstanding pool of theater artists in Chicago through my theater reviewing/writing. I always felt that the critic was part of the creative process and was able to dedicate a large part of my career to articles about actors’ and directors’ techniques and philosophies and behind-the-scenes preparations. I covered sound, scenic, costume design and many other aspects of the performing arts. I wrote In My Brother’s Shoes specifically for Danny McCarthy (Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods, Elvis & Nixon). I had been observing his acting skills for 20 years and knew he could bring a sweet, real and everyman quality to the character. One Year Later, my latest film, about a cancer survivor who takes a life-affirming trip to the Italian Alps one year after completing cancer treatment, was written for Juliet Hart, a subtle, multidimensional actress I’ve also known for 20 years. She portrays the lead character Liz and is a co- founder of Chicago’s acclaimed Timeline Theatre. In addition, I penned the role of Antonio in One Year Later for Italian actor Massimo De Santis (Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna), a noted Rome- based film, TV and theater actor I met in the early days of my Anita Garibaldi screenplay (a project that is in development). We have a lot of high-quality production companies in Chicago, and I found a talented, resourceful crew. Since I have many ties to actors and crew in Italy, I was able to work with excellent talent abroad, too. All involved were committed to and passionate about both films.
Did you write consistently for months or did the script come to you slowly?
The ideas for the One Year Later script were swirling around my head shortly after we shot In My Brother’s Shoes. I wrote the first draft in Fall 2014. Then I was diagnosed with a cancer recurrence in December and had to undergo chemotherapy again in the early part of 2015. That’s when I really refined the script, while simultaneously pulling together my crew, checking on actors’ availability, helping to raise the production budget, determining locations, etc. I had a great sense of urgency about this project and was determined to shoot it in Fall 2015. It was a tremendous incentive to get me through treatment, and I’m so grateful that we reached our goal of filming in Chicago, Milan, Turin and Aosta, Italy in Fall 2015.
Why did you choose to screen your film at hospitals instead of film festivals? I think that is a great idea.
You want to empower the survivors and introduce this story to the families/friends who support the survivors.
One Year Later, like In My Brother’s Shoes, is part of our not-for-profit filmmaking model and organization, In My Brother’s Shoes, Inc., which provides education to and raises funds for those suffering from the many forms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While In My Brother’s Shoes is part of the film festival circuit, we also have presented it to veterans groups and at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. One Year Later screened at Montreal’s 2016 Visions of the World Film & Music Festival, where it was nominated for Best Original Score. And we will continue to enter it into festivals.
But my main goal is to raise awareness of and funds for ovarian cancer research. One Year Later premiered in Fall 2016 at Loyola University Medical Center’s new Center for Translational Research & Education. We have since teamed up with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and present screenings of the film at medical facilities across the country. These screenings provide a forum for doctors, researchers and all levels of healthcare professionals to share new developments in ovarian cancer research and treatments, and to engage on a non-clinical level with patients, survivors and their loved ones and discuss emotional issues surrounding cancer.
I had the pleasure to view both of Lucia’s films. I learned some valuable lessons from One Year Later. What are they? Don’t try to be over protective. The film shows how everyone is worried that the main character escapes the comfort of friends in Italy and go by herself to catch a breath. To experience life without someone holding your hand.
Yes sounded like she needed to find herself again to recreate. It kind of resembles the actor, producer Rita Wilson who after battling cancer morphed into a fine musician. Maybe she was already one in years prior but now we know it.
On the other hand In My Brother’s Shoes he missed the chance to experience Italy with his brother. Are we really that busy? (Gulp)..
Want to check out In My Brother’s Shoes? You can download it for $1.99 at Pixovi.com
What is new with Lucia? She has recently been commissioned by the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini to write and direct a documentary on America’s first saint.
When was the last time you took a trip to Italy or went somewhere by yourself to find yourself?