Ciro Apicella’s love for the visual language of film originated from music. When he was just three years of age, growing up in the small Italian town Vico Equense, he went to see the Neapolitan Opera La Gatta Cenerentola by Roberto De Simone. At that impressionable age, he was amazed by how the music and narrative both were able to communicate something about the character and world with the audience. From that moment on, his mind was always connecting musical pieces with imaginary worlds and narratives. He went on to study music in his free time and formed a band with his best friend. However, growing up in a small religious town in South Italy, he didn’t feel he had the opportunity to find his true identity. At 18, he moved to London, and he continued to explore music and the arts. That was until he first held a video camera, and he felt he could finally express himself freely, revealing his true self through the art of storytelling.
Now, Apicella is an internationally sought-after writer. He is known for his acclaimed films The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow, which revolves around the Marquise de Sade set in a fetid Paris during the 18th Century, The Peter Pan Museum, shot inside the house where the famous book was written, Blue Boy, which starred A-list actors Fabrizio Ferracane (The Traitor, Cannes 2019) and Nunzia Schiano (Dogman, Cannes 2018) and Luce, which was a finalist at Firenze Filmcorti International Festival, Short Film Factory, Wellington Independent Film Festival, Social World Film Festival, Short to the Point (Semifinalist), Torino Underground Cinefest, Rolling Ideas, and will screen at Academy Award Qualifying LA Shorts and AFIfest 2020 later this year.
“I love every aspect of film, from the moment an idea presents itself to you, when you dream about it and finally, when you sit down to write it. The process of writing is always fascinating as you are meeting your characters and getting to know them like real people. Then you build a tailored world for your story, creating rhythm and dynamic, the music, etc. Being on set is also special because your vision gets tangible and you can literally explore new aspects of the story inside a 3D world,” said Apicella.
Apicella’s next feature screenplay Arteteca is based on a personal story, a love letter to his childhood friends and all the sleepless nights spent together searching for their identity. The inspiration came from a specific moment when Apicella and his closest friends spent a whole summer living together in a house in Italy. This was shortly before he left for the United Kingdom and was the last time he and his friends were all together. The desire to share those memories, fears and insecurities, came when his best friend passed away two years ago.
“With him I moved to London, leaving loved ones behind in order to search for who we really were. And this is what the movie is ultimately about: young men seeking to find who they are in an environment where they may not belong. In times like this, I always think it’s a good thing to speak about love and friendship, purity of intentions and crystal-clear dreams. To speak about unforgettable, deep and cheerful moments we spent with loved ones, while growing up,” said Apicella.
Arteteca is a love letter to his childhood friends and birthplace, and Apicella is therefore a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to making this heartfelt film. He knows the characters, what they wear, what music they listen to, how they talk, the world they live in. Because of this, it is one of the most personal projects Apicella has ever made, and very delicate to write about. He tries to be true to his intentions and vision, to respect the characters and the world he is referencing. When a stronger melancholic feeling can prevail, he reminds himself that those were actually incredible times of freedom, and personal exploration, so it really is a game of balancing these delicate feelings with the same humor that distinguished those times in his life.
“Working on Arteteca allows me to relive and understand the relationship with my friends. It gives me a good sense of perspective on the dynamic structure of the small-town society where I come from. Finally, it also allows me to write things that I didn’t manage to say out-loud and to expand on social issues that affect my generation,” said Apicella.
Arteteca is currently in development with Plenty Good, a screenplay development company that Apicella co-founded. His bilingual background and experience both in Italy and the United States will help him to bring this film to fruition at the best possible level. The screenplay has already been recognized by the Sundance Institute, passing to the second round of the Sundance Lab, beating thousands of applications.
“It’s always amazing and humbling to receive such recognition from the best film festival in the United States and one of the most respected in the world. Sundance has always been a reference in my life, my favorite modern directors came out of the Sundance Institute’s labs. It feels good to know that such a prestigious panel of professionals like what you’ve written. It gives me more strength to keep pushing the envelope and write something exceptional,” he concluded.