LARA CELENZA

by Sherif Awad
Specially for www.MeetingVenus.com

LARA CELENZA

-I grew up in a small town in central Italy. I wasn’t born on a bed of feathers and, being the only artist in the family, I had to make some very tough calls. However, my family is supportive of my choices now. I can’t recall a specific moment when I realised I was interested in writing and filmmaking… I think I was pretty much born to do it. As a kid, I used to fantasise for hours and imagine all sorts of adventure movies in my head. I still do it, only now I make a living out of it. Isn’t that great?

-To name a few of my early role models: Indiana Jones, The X-Files, Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins, punk bands, Keanu Reeves, ninjas, indians in Western movies, toy sport cars, Lady Oscar, Sailor Moon. I dreamt of visiting ancient Egypt and flying my own spaceship... Imagine my joy when the movie Stargate came out!

-Becoming an artist: I pursued conventional academic education because I was raised to believe it was a conditio sine qua non. I studied Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Bologna, and then I completed a Master’s Degree in Russian Studies at the University of Cambridge, followed by a Directing Diploma at the Raindance Film School in London. These were valuable experiences but in my opinion practice is far more important.

-Becoming a star, is it important?: I do what I do because it’s my greatest joy. I couldn’t care less about being a star. However, exposure to a larger audience is necessary to get your story out in the world. So yes, I welcome more success into my life and I am grateful for every accomplishment and recognition, but I do not make stardom a pinnacle of my existence. Many people think “I will be happy when… I win an award/make x amount of money/have x number of followers”, and so on. I choose to be happy now with everything and everyone around me. Now. The present is the only “time" that really matters.

-Yes. Sexism exists. You get the people on set who don’t listen to you, those who don’t take you seriously, those who make inappropriate jokes. I use a “my way or the highway” approach. If you don’t respect me, I will walk away - no matter how much I love you, or how important or well connected you are. This is a challenge: as women, we are raised to believe that our job is to make everyone happy, so we end up making everyone happy - except for ourselves. I am very kind and gentle by nature so oftentimes it isn’t easy for me to be firm and unapologetic on the job, but I’m learning and things are getting easier and easier.

-Berlin (where I live) is a welcoming place. There’s many talented, interesting people, but I find the energy a bit unfocused and aimless sometimes. The arts scene here is stronger than the film scene, so it’s a great place for anything experimental. People are keen to collaborate and very open minded.
Italy (where I come from) is another story. The system is too corrupt, and people are so starved for opportunities that they think the scene is a jungle and you have to kill to survive. Isn’t it sad?

- Kalifilm Productions, my company, is always open to commissions, provided the budget and the quality meet our standards. We film commercials and music videos for an international market. Every project is handled with much love and care, like a living being. We take it all the way to the finishing line, from concept to distribution. However, when it comes to films, we do not accept unsolicited scripts at this time, because we are developing our own.

-This has been my hardest challenge over the years. I didn’t really have a private life: I was constantly working, dragging myself from deadline to deadline. I was very unhappy. However, over the last year or so I have learned to pace myself and allow myself plenty of time for rest and relaxation. This discipline has made me more successful, abundant and creative.

-I am currently working on the post-production of my first feature film, “Lost in the City” - a drama about a deranged homeless man who wages a furious personal vendetta against the banking system. The film will be released in 2020. Together with my lovely partner-in-crime and friend Natalie MacMahon, I curate Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin and a brand new film agency called Highlights Film Distribution. I am also developing several film projects, which you will find on our official website www.kalifilmproductions.com.