Director, songwriter, and artist Annalaura di Luggo recently held a virtual chat with members of the Society of Composers and Lyricists to discuss her film We Are Art Through the Eyes of Annalaura, which is currently in contention for Best Documentary Feature and Best Song [“We Are Art”] at the Academy Awards.
We Are Art Through the Eyes of Annalaura is one of three Italian documentaries from di Luggo, along with Blind Vision and Napoli Eden, that were recently acquired by Cinedigm during AFM, and they’re slated to begin streaming in early 2023.
“Annalaura di Luggo’s artistic eye and humanitarian nature always deliver an unforgettable viewer experience focused on social inclusion,” Cinedigm’s Yolanda Macias said in a statement.
Filmed on location in Naples and produced in collaboration with creative consultant Stanley Isaacs, We Are Art Through the Eyes of Annalaura involves the creation of a giant eye made of recycled aluminum, which symbolizes environmental rebirth and recycling. That giant eye’s dynamic and interactive pupil projects the lives of four young people who overcame adversities to find new value in life.
This includes a young blind woman, a woman who has dealt with bullying and alcoholism her entire life, a young man whose parents are incarcerated, forcing him to fend for himself, and another young man who comes to Italy in search of a better life.
Di Luggo’s intention was to highlight the importance of social inclusion, and the eye has long been a theme in her work, as she believes “the eyes are the mirror of the soul, and a symbol of identity, equality, and unity.”
She has done extensive work with the blind, and in prisons, working on reforms, so she is a passionate advocate for human rights. That’s why her artistic path has led her to focus on showing how every human being has value and is a work of art.
“I scouted [for] four young adults [who] had to face different challenges in their lives, [as] I wanted to understand how they were able to overcome their difficulties and challenges,” di Luggo told the SCL crowd.
“I was really trying to find somebody who was able to… demonstrate how to overcome their difficulties. I met six blind people and I chose Noemie because she was such a joyful person and full of life, and she goes horse riding and climbs mountains. [When the others met her], they thought their difficulties were smaller than what Noemie faced, and she was the happiest person.”
The film was made during the pandemic, and di Luggo said she thought it was helpful in bringing her cast together, as they’ve formed lasting bonds.
“Working together was a very, very good thing for all of them because they really learned how to make a spiritual change, and they changed from the inside, and they’re continuing to change. I’m still in contact with them, and they have much better self-esteem. This was a great thing for their life — not just their career, but their life. And when you try to create a better world for other people, I think that’s a nice thing. They’ve become good friends and Larissa helps Noemie to do stuff, and Noemie gives her better awareness of the joy of life.”
At one point, di Luggo even had her cast don jumpsuits over their clothes, only to ask them to remove those jumpsuits to metaphorically strip themselves of their suffering, and embrace their lives as “creatures of sublime beauty.” Di Luggo explained that the giant eye they made together served as a symbol of both their identity as well as their redemption.
Di Luggo also wrote the original song “We Are Art,” which she performs in the film and also performed on for the SCL’s virtual chat. It has a catchy beat, and it speaks to something she mentioned in regards to her earlier film, Blind Vision.
“For two days, I was in the darkness with blind people, holding their hands. But maybe people without sight have an inner light that shines brighter than the eyes can see. [Because when you] perceive the world without sight, [you] use all the other senses, like touch and smell, to contact the world in an alternative way.”
“The most important thing for me is to give an uplifting message of social inclusion and an affirmation of the value of the human being and [of] life. [Hopefully,] the song leads [us] to search for our inner strength, and God, and to always be positive.”
To that end, Di Luggo operates Annydi Productions, which was conceived as a center of production and promotion of experimental films, documentaries, pieces of video art, and interactive installations. By building bridges between specialized technicians and artists, Annydi Productions produces works of social and cultural relevance, focusing on issues such as social inclusion, environmental protection, human rights, nature, and biodiversity. The company has always made it a point to include individuals with sensory disabilities and social inclusion challenges.
We Are Art Through the Eyes of Annalaura will begin streaming on Cinedigm early next year, but you can watch the official music video (with lyrics) below: