• Golden Globe Awards

Alone with Her Dreams (Italy) – In conversation with Paolo Licata

Cinema Paradiso), as well as the literary influences of Elsa Morante and Elena Ferrante.

marks the directorial debut of co-writer Licata and is based on Catena Fiorello’s first novel Picciridda. Fiorello adapted it for the screen with Licata. The film premiered to much acclaim at the Taormina Film Festival in 2019, and went on to win many awards, such as the Globi d’Oro, and six nominations at the Nastro d’Argento Awards.

It was a very difficult path, as it often happens with first-time directors. You have to find the right producer, who believes in you, the distributor, put together a good enough budget. It’s a battle. I read Catena Fiorello’s novel, a best-seller in Italy, and asked her right away to make a film from it. Through Italian screenwriter and producer Ugo Chiti, I found Alba Produzioni and Panoramic Films. We worked for three years on this project. A long gestation, but we finally made it. The film’s successful debut at Taormina was pivotal to its strong connection with the audience. Word of mouth worked wonders.

I was really hoping to represent Italy at the Oscars, as best International film, but the Italian board chose another movie [Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno]. The global lockdown situation made it all the more difficult for our film to be seen internationally. Corinth Films secured the US distribution: they loved it because it’s a story that touches upon topics well known in America, such as immigration. I’m confident that the American audience will like and embrace our film.


Its real strength is that it tells a story set in the late ’60s and yet it’s very much current. Immigration, of course, the shifting of lives to more fertile areas in the world, the effect that this plays on emotions, loves, affection. When you leave your birth home there’s always a painful severance. Another theme of the film, a very important one, is violence against women, then and now. And its reflection on poverty.

More than the old neorealism of Italian cinema I took inspiration from Sicilian directors such as Pasquale Scimeca, a great “niche” director who, in turn, takes inspiration from the work of the great Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga, father of “verismo” style. Certainly, neorealism and verismo are parts of my cultural baggage. Alone is simple, delicate and true, and at the same time very powerful: its epilogue is strong and moving. It will shake everybody.