‘The Italian Girl’ is the next project currently in early development by London-based production company Rebel Republic Films. 

In late February, the company had a three-day shoot in Ryde, after having chosen the Isle of Wight as the perfect setting for the film’s teaser; as suggested by their Director of Photography - and Island resident - Ben Hodgson.

I was extremely lucky to be able to interview the producer Tatevik Ayvazyan (https://www.instagram.com/tatoayvaz/), who, with director Garo Berberian (https://www.instagram.com/garo.films/), is the engine powering this alluring production that has been in the works since its announcement in March 2019.

Preceded by award-winning projects like the 2018 short film ‘Taniel' and their recently completed music documentary 'Married to the Music', the company has set its sights on making their first feature film: an adaptation of a more obscure work by the late great writer Dame Iris Murdoch - ‘The Italian Girl’.

Building on Murdoch’s typical tropes of complex plots surrounded by scandal and macabre comedy, ‘The Italian Girl’ follows protagonist Edmund Narraway as he returns to his childhood home to attend his mother’s cremation alongside other members of his extended family; whom we later learn have much more in common than it first appears.

Besides having previously read and adored the book, Ayvazyan told me the choice of this particular work would continue the company’s passion for tackling social issues through the medium of film. 

Upon her own analysis, Ayvazyan saw ‘a stunning, truly visual story; an interesting observation of a dysfunctional family that talked about serious social issues - abortion, homosexuality, women’s rights - in times where Murdoch couldn’t express them freely’. Given that this is such an important aspect of the company’s work, ‘The Italian Girl’ seemed like the perfect muse for Rebel Republic’s next masterpiece.

Unlike the previous stage adaptation - co-written by James Saunders and Murdoch herself - this new project aims to be a ‘contemporarily relevant’ and original take on a 1960s drama.

During the three-day shoot that took place in late February on a property near Appley Beach in Ryde, the crew spent lots of time ‘playing with light and shadow’, experimenting with the creative direction of the piece, and found a particular interest in Murdoch’s depiction of the characters - ‘their own lives are isolated within the family’.

As such, Berberian and Ayvazyan hope to create a self-contained cinematic experience where the house both physically and metaphorically contains the narrative. ‘All the rooms will have different styles’, and each space will help to convey the distinct lives of the characters and the story of temptation and sin that unfolds between them.

While on the surface a gothic melodrama ‘full of twists, affairs, secrets, and intrigue’, the novel’s true nature is a tale of reconciliation - and ultimately a story of redemption.

Rebel Republic Film’s new teaser for ‘The Italian Girl’, starring actors Daniel Trevenna, Sam Lapham, and Gail Taplin, marks the first step towards a full release that audiences may get to see in the not-too-distant future.

You can find out more on their website https://rebelrepublicfilms.com/ or go to their Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/rebelrepublicfilms/.