From writer and director, Alice Rohrwacher, and Academy Award® winning producer, Alfonso Cuarón, “Le Pupille” is a tale of innocence, greed and fantasy. This 2023 Oscar® nominated Live Action Short is about desires, pure and selfish, about freedom and devotion, and about the anarchy that is capable of flowering in the minds of girls within the confines of a strict religious boarding. Inspired by a letter Italian novelist Elsa Morante sent to her friend, LE PUPILLE is a magical fable about a group of mischievous young Catholic schoolgirls during an imaginary wartime. Unfolding over the Christmas holiday, the orphaned girls find themselves blessed with a scrumptious red cake from a generous countess and must evade Mother Superior’s (Alba Rohrwacher) watchful eye for a taste of decadence. Alice Rohrwacher with her signature whimsical touch, crafts a joyously playful tale about childhood desire, greed and freedom. Director Alice Rohrwacher (The Wonders, Heavenly Body), joins us for a conversation on the challenge of finding the right tone and cadence for this beguiling tale, casting the “right” Serafina, working with her sister and her collaboration with her gifted collaborators.
About the filmmaker – Director, writer, producer Alice Rohrwacher studied in Turin and Lisbon. Her first experience in filmmaking was in 2006, when directing a part of the Italian documentary Checosamanca. In 2011, she directed her first feature film, Heavenly Body, which premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight during the 2011 Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim. Her second feature film, The Wonders, won the Grand Prix at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Also in 2014, Rohrwacher was appointed the President of the International Jury for the “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. She announced filming of her third film Lazzaro Felice in 2017 with the film starring Sergi López and Rohrwacher’s sister Alba Rohrwacher. The film premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best Screenplay. It was released by Netflix in December of that year. Her most recent film, Le Pupille, was nominated for the 2023 Oscar® for best Live Action Short.
“Its wide-ranging cast of characters—nuns and supplicants, laborers and clergymen—evoke a world of troubles, such as poverty, wartime fears, and religious dogmatism, alongside the children’s vital energies and complex yearnings.” – Richard Brody, New York Times
“This charming and surprisingly suspenseful film shares with Rohrwacher’s other work a puckish sense of humor and a deep understanding of how sometimes, in the name of righteousness, people can be awfully wicked.” Noel Murray, LosAngeles Times
“The continuous religious shaming takes a terrific unexpected turn: by telling very little, Rohrwacher is able to tell absolutely everything.” – Randy Meeks, Espinof
“Brewing in the subtext are lightly provocative ruminations on conformity, morality and purity. A little joy goes a long way, and Le Pupille is bursting with it.” – John Serba, Decider
“… A Christmas story of utmost beauty, charm, humor, and humanity so infrequent in contemporary cinema.” – Diego Batlle, Otroscines