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When Rocco Anelli graduated with a degree in Film and Digital Media from The American University of Rome in 2019, he was already well on the way to success in the film industry. By the end of his first year of studies, he had written the first draft for I Gemelli, (“The Twins”) a film that he would go on to present at the 2020 Festival of European Cinema.

When we caught up with him in November 2020, he told us about the experience of participating in the festival, and how his production company, Kraken, came to be invite to participate. The fact that his team was approached by the festival, rather than the other way around, was in itself an outstanding achievement for a directorial debut, but the film ended up reaching the finals of the festival. 

Rocco talked us through the process of making the film, from conception to premiere. This was his first experience of working on a big production with a big budget, so it was of course a steep learning curve, but he clearly found a perfect match in Kraken, which invests in young directors and artists – an investment that clearly paid off! When asked what the most valuable thing he learned from the experience was, he said:

“If you have a gut feeling… you should stand up for your idea and defend it, because producers and production designers are always going to want to tweak it, to save money or to make it more appealing to a mass audience… you have to be able to stand up for your idea, but at the same time you have to learn to compromise and negotiate”.

Reflecting on the role and influence of AUR and Rome itself on his work, Rocco noted the breadth of knowledge and the work ethic bestowed upon him by his professors, Victor RambaldiTony VillaniBrian Koperski, and Lorenzo Coretti. It was under their guidance that he made his first short film at AUR and completed a course at Cinecittà, the largest film studio in Europe and the hub of Italian cinema. And it was at AUR that the script for I Gemelli and Rocco’s style and technique developed alongside each other, culminating in the film having its premiere at AUR. We are very proud to have played a part in his debut film!

Since completing I Gemelli, Rocco has branched out into directing opera - one in his hometown in the Puglia region, and one in Milan - and assistant directing for a documentary series that thus far has taken him to Kenya and Morocco. Looking ahead to the future, Rocco hopes one day to adapt for film a book that he has written and recently signed a book deal for.

Congratulations to Rocco on his fantastic achievements so far, and we can't wait to see what's next for him!