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The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirsten Chuba sat down with star and producer Annalaura di Luggo and creative consultant Stanley Isaacs to discuss their documentary Napoli Eden in a THR Presents Q&A powered by Vision Media.
During the half-hour chat, di Luggo and Isaacs described how they made the unconventional film — which at times feels more like a scripted feature than a traditional documentary — and its impact on starting conversations about sustainability in pre-pandemic Italy.
Napoli Eden follows di Luggo as she takes on her latest art project, four works constructed from recycled aluminum that she places in symbolic locations throughout her native Naples. While aiming to highlight sustainability and environmental protection, the multimedia artist also enlists underprivileged youth from Naples’ Spanish Quarters to help build her projects, with an emphasis on social inclusion and giving the teens a new perspective on life.
“We were working toward the same direction to create something that had to mean change, for Naples but for the total world, pointing attention on the environment,” she says. “Recycling and giving the sense of something that goes from raw materials to a work of art, it’s a very big transformation that everybody can have.”
Shot before the coronavirus pandemic ravaged Italy, along with the rest of the world, the film serves as both a time capsule and a reminder to the importance of taking care of the planet and its people.
“This situation gave us the chance to have this documentary enlightened because maybe now more than before we do need a rebirth,” says di Luggo. “We do need to understand the essential things of the world, and we do need the environmental safeguards and the social inclusion that are the most important things to create a healthy society and a healthy world.”
The worldwide shutdown also meant that Isaacs, a longtime friend and di Luggo collaborator, edited the film from Miami while the artist remained in Italy, the two sharing cuts and notes via phone and email. The “love letter to the city of Naples,” as Isaacs calls it, differed from the typical documentary style he’d worked on of using mostly sit-down interviews and archival footage.
“This is a hybrid. It’s a true documentary because everything that happened, happened. The beauty of it is the characters in the story are so vibrant that it seems like a dramatic piece,” he says. “These are the real personalities, these are the real people. This is how they behave every single day. And part of it is the energy of the city of Naples, there’s a magical quality to that marvelous city that brings out so much joy and wonderment.”
This THR Presents is brought to you by Rogers and Cowan ANNYDI Productions; additional Q&As and other supplementary content can be viewed in THR’s new public hub at THRPresents.HollywoodReporter.com.
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