Foreign Filmmaker Visits Fordham Lincoln Center


Jaime Martinez

Alice Rohrwacher’s “The Wonders” is avaliable to stream on Netflix. (COURTESY OF UNIVERSIDAD PABLO DE OLAVIDE/ VIA FLICKR)


For the past four years, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has been the home of a very unique program, which annually appoints one director to a position called the Filmmaker in Residence. Each year, a different international filmmaker is housed in America and given funding to finance any project they desire. The first Filmmaker in Residence in 2013 was Andrea Arnold from England, who developed and filmed the movie “American Honey,” which is currently in theaters. The current Filmmaker in Residence is Italian director, writer, editor and documentarian Alice Rohrwacher. The communication and media studies and Italian departments here at Fordham worked together with the Film Society this past September to bring Rohrwacher and her second feature film “The Wonders” to Fordham Lincoln Center for a Q&A session. Rohrwacher talked to students about the filmmaking process, filming with bees and what it’s like to be a female director.

Rohrwacher’s film “The Wonders” is a movie from 2014 that she wrote and directed, which won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival that same year. The movie tells the story of a young girl who lives with her parents and three younger sisters, all of whom are working as beekeepers on a farm in the middle of the Italian countryside. The film is somewhat autobiographical, as Rohrwacher worked on her parents’ beekeeping farm as a child. In truth, the entire movie was a family affair, with Rohrwacher’s sister Alba Rohrwacher playing the role of the mother in the movie. The movie is about the relationships that main character Gelsomina (Alexandra Maria Lungu) has with the rest of her family, particularly with her father and aunt.

The movie is beautiful in every aspect, from how it looks to the script and everything in between. Rohrwacher shows a lot of love for the film and the craft of filmmaking in general. She manages to capture the magnificence of Italy in a way that few movies can, showing not the city life in Rome or Venice but the lives of actual people living in the countryside. The movie is also incredibly relatable, focusing on the kinds of conflicts that exist in nearly every family across the world.

Following the screening of the movie, Rohrwacher spoke with students about making the movie, answering questions from students on a variety of topics. She discussed how language was used in the movie, the loopholes she used in order to work with thousands of bees for a day, and how filming with children and filming with adults are two different processes. However, one of the most interesting questions Rohrwacher answered was about the difficulties of being a female director, to which she responded that “a female director is a director. You can do it if you try. Just work at it and anyone can direct.”

Alice Rohrwacher will work with the Film Society until the end of the year, completing the script for her next film as well as preparing to direct a new opera next year. “The Wonders” is currently streaming on Netflix.