Italy

Synopsis

Dafne is a witty young woman with Down Syndrome, who is a spring of contagious energy. She is fiercely independent, but still lives with her parents, Luigi and Maria.
Suddenly Maria dies and the family’s balance is shattered. Luigi falls into depression, tormented by the future, by the moment when he will leave his daughter alone … Thanks to her job and her lifelong friends, Dafne instead deals with the loss with the thoughtlessness of a child and the bravery of a young woman, and tries to shake her father up. Until one day something unexpected happens: they decide to leave together for a hike in the mountains to the town where Maria was born. Along the walk, they will discover a lot about each other and they will learn together how to go beyond their limits.

Directors Statement

A few years ago, I saw an old father and his daughter with Down Syndrome holding hands at a bus stop. Standing still among the speeding cars and passersby, they looked like heroes, survivors.
DAFNE was inspired by this image and the feeling accompanying it, it was the spark that pushed me to go deeper in the story. I entered with curiosity a world that I didn’t know before, until I had the chance to meet Carolina Raspanti, and become her friend. Meeting her was essential not only for the film, but also for my life.
On set, her presence was an inspiration to us all. Carolina is not affected by her diversity, she accepts it, she is in constant discussion with it and she lives her condition with mature serenity. While the world nowadays “forces” us to be fully efficient and to overcome emotional pain in a heartbeat (there is even a pill for mourning!) Carolina/Dafne reminds us to accept the situations we find ourselves in and live them at the fullest.
The sudden loss of her mother marks a point of no return in Dafne’s life, since she has to face both her problems and those of her father. From their complementary needs, in such a dramatic and painful moment, the evolution of Dafne and Luigi’s relationship offers an opportunity for both of them: DAFNE is the story of an “overcoming”, of the optimistic will to get over difficulties.
My intention behind the film is to invite the audience to leave behind the rigid attitudes of prejudice, fear, in certain cases even horror or more often compassion, that we might feel when confronted with someone “different”. Carolina shows us what I believe should be the right attitude to adopt through her irony (which is the clearest strength of her personality, since her humour is sharp and unpredictable) and her great seriousness: to her, life is a challenge that should be faced fearlessly.
Mixing genres and without using disability as entertainment, DAFNE is a comedy drama or a drama told through comedy: a 'dramedy' which, I hope, will make audiences laugh and cry at the same time.
Nowadays there are nearly 40,000 people with Down Syndrome in Italy. It is not an illness, it is a genetic condition that accompanies people with an additional chromosome for their whole life. However, each person with Down Syndrome is unique, just as any other person. Carolina is Dafne. Reality was my main inspiration while I was writing and filming. It was not Carolina who had to adapt to the film (she has not even read a single page of the script), but it was the film that had to adapt to Carolina. I could actually “betray” the original script, but not Carolina’s trust, which has demanded accuracy, respect and listening … Those have been the best incentives to give dignity to her story, to her gaze and to that father and daughter holding hands at the bus stop.

Director's Biography

Federico Bondi is a director and author from Florence.
After graduating in Film Studies from the University of Florence he wrote and directed his first feature film MAR NERO (2008), which was the only Italian film in competition at the 61st Locarno Film Festival, where it won three prizes. The film was also nominated for the Italian David di Donatello Awards and Federico Bondi was nominated for the Silver Ribbon Awards. Federico has also directed many advertisements and documentaries including SOSTE (2001), SOSTE JAPAN (2002), L’UOMO PLANETARIO, L’UTOPIA DI ERNESTO BALDUCCI (2005) and EDUCAZIONE AFFETTIVA (2014).
DAFNE is his second feature film.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Federico Bondi

Written by: Federico Bondi

Produced by: Marta Donzelli, Gregorio Paonessa

Cinematography: Piero Basso

Editing: Stefano Cravero

Production Design: Alessandra Mura, Cristina Del Zotto

Costume Design: Massimo Cantini Parrini

Hair & Make-up: Sara Lombardi, Daniela Tartari

Original Score: Saverio Lanza

Sound: Mirko Guerra

Main Cast: Antonio Piovanelli (Luigi), Stefania Casini (Maria), Carolina Raspanti (Dafne)

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Feature Film Selection 2019