A bit like a symphony, with a “musical harmony” that transports individuals up to making it turn into a group, “La Prima Regola” tells the ordinary life of a community, a group of young adults from the outskirts of Bari, Italy, all different from each other but all sharing a past that shouldn’t belong to anyone, much less to adolescents.
We met Ileana D’Ambra, one of the performers in this drama directed by Massimiliano D’Epiro and based on a theater play by Vincenzo Manna, and we spoke about the school microcosm, the suburbs, how close but at the same time far we are from transforming it into just a harmless mental place. We spoke about her character, Maisa, a student marked from an intense (even though brief) life of abuse and preconceptions, a girl that has all the right reasons to be grumpy and mad at the world, but despite everything she’s never presented like a victim. A context that’s diametrically opposed to the happy, lighthearted, and playful atmosphere that Ileana found and made hers in “Che Dio ci aiuti 7”, coming soon on January 2023 on the Italian network Rai1.
Maybe it’s because she’s a Capricorn, but if Ileana has arrived here and now, it’s because she’s determined to follow her own path, “right here and now”.
What’s your first cinema memory?
My first cinema memory dates back to when I was 7 and it’s the day I acted for the first time in front of a camera. It was a small, black Panasonic that belonged to two support teachers at my elementary school in Bologna. They were the support teachers of one of my classmates who suffered from autistic spectrum disorders, and they decided to have the whole class take part in a competition for the integration of the region, where we had to present a long feature film entirely written, directed, and performed by us kids.
Everyone realized I was totally comfortable with acting, perhaps also because I played a dictator, the best role that I’ve ever been offered (I’m kidding, of course).
Now, you’re one of the protagonists of the movie “La Prima Regola” by Massimiliano D’Epiro: a raw story, which is also delicate in its way to exemplify the reality of suburban schools, showing their most extreme and problematic side. What was the goal you set yourself when you got on set?
As soon as I read the script for the first time, my goal had been to give Maisa, my character, strong dignity and respect. According to the story, she’s a revenge porn victim, but inside I felt the need not to ever let her appear as a victim, but rather as a warrior, who doesn’t want to be subjected to other people’s actions.
“My goal had been to give Maisa, my character, strong dignity and respect.”
From the theater play (“La classe” by Vincenzo Manna), the movie kept the theatrical set-up, with the camera following the characters’ movements just as if they were on a stage. What has this artistic experiment left you with? Did you learn anything new about yourself from Maisa, your character?
I started acting with theater works and one of my long-term goals is to have the chance and the great privilege to carry on with both worlds. So, finding a bit of that universe in a movie like “La Prima Regola” made me feel very excited about starting shooting and it certainly strengthened in me the need to keep exploring more and more.