Let's meet Pantaleone Megna, director of the "The Shape of Life"
When and how was the idea of this film born?
The idea for this movie was born a few years ago, together with the other authors of the screenplay, from our experiences with disease and, in particular, with genetic pathologies. We tried to combine the passion for cinema with the social commitment that we strongly feel. In short, the main idea is that cinema is a powerful communication and cultural vehicle, not just an entertainment tool. Entertainment and culture, united in one medium, can encourage reflection and the passion towards the plot. Immersing ourselves in a story allows us to "understand" in the authentic sense of the term (understand our nature, understand the differences, understand the joy and sufferings of those who are similar, but also different from us).
What genre does the movie belong to?
The movie is a hybrid that mixes together social thriller and family drama. This fusion seemed optimal for the type of story we wanted to tell; a story that wants to make people reflect and at make them feel passionate about the plot. In fact, the story focuses on the possible dangers that scientific research can face if it is not supported by a strong principle of solidarity.
What distinguishes this movie from others of the same genre?
First of all, very few movies of this kind are produced in Italy. Secondly, the issue of the relationship between science and civil society, which is in our opinion a contemporary crucial issue, as we have been able to experience during the health emergency caused by Covid-19 in the recent months. The problem of a free science, especially when we speak about medical science, is today more than ever a topic of vital importance for the overall well-being of people and for a fair development of our societies. Moreover, we need to highlight the staging and the cinematographic techniques that have been conceived, in order to give to the movie an international scope and a strong, original, visual experience.
What do you expect from this project?
I wish to give more visibility to Huntington's Disease, to scientific research (not only in this field) and more generally give rise to the reflection on the relationship between science and civil society: the scientific challenges that they arise in the present and in the immediate future. And of course, I wish that the viewers will be emotionally and intellectually engaged.
Why is it necessary to raise funds at this stage?
The topic of the funds needed to make movies is always complicated, especially for this kind of works that aim to bring new themes to the big screen, themes that have never been dealt with and which aim to combine entertainment and social commitment in an original way. By now the script has been completed; but shooting a film requires considerable economic and material efforts, precisely to ensure that the final product corresponds to expectations, and to convey its message in the best possible way.
Through which channels will it be distributed?
We are in contact with three important TV streaming platforms, for the moment I can only say that it will be distributed through one of these platforms, but I cannot say more at this stage.
Why Huntington's Disease, included Paediatric HD?
Huntington's Disease is less known than other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, it seems like it has been created a division between series A and series B diseases. This seems to us strongly unfair. Public opinion must be aware, the knowledge in medical research fields must be brought to the attention of citizens without any distinction whatsoever. Furthermore, Huntington, even more considering the pediatric variant, can be considered like an archetypal disease, whose characteristics can make us really reflect on our fragility and what it means to be "human". In short, Huntington puts us in front of crucial aspects of our nature, precisely through the progressive loss of those characteristics, in which body and mind become a single whole. Most of all, children are symbols par excellence of Life, of all human possibilities, of the future, of everything that pushes us to strive to achieve great things; so, seeing a child having to deal with this disease is the most unjust and contrary to life thing. The movie wants to be after all a hymn to life, a hymn that manifests itself through the allegory of rebirth.
Is there a message you want to send to the HD patient community?
The only message I feel to send to Huntington families is to have courage and rely on the progress of scientific research. Unfortunately, in such circumstances the risk is to become rhetorical, but I would like to avoid it. And the most powerful tool we have to avoid rhetoric in these dramatic situations lived both directly, and indirectly, on the skin of family or friends, is education. In the end, we shall make sure that knowledge and solidarity always go hand in hand.