At the 67th Cannes Film Festival, Italian director Alice Rohrwacher won the Grand Prix prize, the second most prestigious award, for her film “The Wonders.” The festival's top honor, the Palme D’or, went to “Winter’s Sleep,” directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Rohrwacher was one of only two female directors with films competing for the Palme D’or. Jane Champion, the judge who awarded Rohrwacher her prize, remains the only woman to have ever taken home a Palme D’Or, for her film “The Piano.”
Rohrwacher, 31, was born in Fiesole, Italy, to Italian and German parents. Her first feature film, 2011's “Corpo Celeste,” which also went to Cannes and was screened during the Director’s Fortnight, received the Cannes’ Città di Roma prize for emerging cinema from Latin countries.
As for “The Wonders,” the Telegraph wrote that it's very much “inspired by the director’s own childhood in the countryside between Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany.”
But Rohrwacher disagrees with that assessment. “It seems autobiographical because it is set in a familiar territory for me, but in reality, it isn’t,” she said in an interview in Italian with CineBlog. “The story is completely made up, however it’s clear whatever stories we tell are always seen through our own perception.”
Still, there are a number of similarities. For one, “The Wonders,” or “Le Meravigle” in Italian, follows the story of a part German, part Italian family during a summer in the Tuscan countryside. Beekeeping is also a prominent theme in the film, and probably influenced by Rohrwacher’s own father’s beekeeping job.
“The film shows so many things but mainly the powerful love between a father and his daughters, especially the firstborn,” she told Corriere Della Sera.
German-born Wolfgang is the father of four girls, and the owner of 10 sheep and an occasional camel. The oldest of the four sisters, Gelsomina, at only 12 years old, “has to deal with responsibility beyond her years, a relationship with her father that's becoming tempestuous for the first time, and even the first pangs of longing, thanks to the arrival of Martin,” according to IndieWire.
The cast of “The Wonders” features Maria Alexandra Lungu, Sam Louwyck, Sabine Timoteo, Agnese Graziani, Monica Bellucci and the director’s sister Alba Rohrwacher.
Other winners at this year's Cannes festival include Timothy Spall, who won Best Actor for his role in “Mr. Turner”; Julianne Moore, who won Best Actress for her role in “Maps to the Stars”; and Bennett Miller, who won Best Director for “Foxcatcher.”