The history of the project began in 2017 when it participated in the prestigious competition MIA TV Drama Series Pitching Forum in Rome. Three years later, in compliance with all the safety requirements, the filming of the feature-length comedy began in the Carpathian Mountains.
At the heart of the plot is a relationship between a maid Vlada Koza and Fredo Lagana – a bigwig in Cosa Nostra, an Italian mafia clan. Fredo has been recently released from prison and is having a hard time navigating the modern world around. He lost control over his business, and his family has nothing but trouble. Vlada becomes a secret Ukrainian ingredient in Fredo’s success, for both getting back the control over his organization and fixing his relationships with his kids.
Don Fredo’s eldest son – brutish Luca, dreams to continue in his father’s line of work, but he lacks a knack for it. The youngest son Gianni, conversely, does not want to get involved in crime, and no wonder – he has got a software engineering degree in the US. His daughter Francesca is stubborn, rebellious, and has a modern outlook on life. She tries to ignore the familial history, which irritates her father greatly. The entire Lagana family lost touch with each other, and Vlada is going to help the whole family to settle disputes and understand each other once again.
The family theme is a connecting link between gangster films and family comedy. The producers of the project, Maria Grazia Saccà (Pepito Produzioni, Italy) and Kateryna Vyshnevska (FILM.UA Group) elaborate: “We want to remind the audience about the value of the family. Now, it’s more important than ever, regardless of the new forms and meanings our age brings to it. Family brings us together, despite our nationality and social class. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget to tend to the interests of people closest to us. Isn’t it better to live in harmony and sometimes give each other space?”
Also, the main character Vlada will prove that stereotypes about both Ukrainians and Italians, are not always true. We have more things in common, and the ones that set us apart are trivial.
The lead part of Vlada Koza is portrayed by the famous Ukrainian actress Irma Vitovska (The Secret Diary of Simon Petliura, Brama, My Thoughts Are Silent). This is going to be the first-ever case for a major European project to star a Ukrainian actress in the lead role.
The film is directed by an Italian Giovanni Dota, who has received 50 nominations and 22 awards at international film festivals. His short film Fino alla Fine, the one that caught the attention of producers, was chosen for the 33rd Venice International Film Critics’ Week awards and received a special prize from the major Italian channel RAI.
“Koza Nostra is a story about children and parents, a story about the difficulties of being in that role. I want to explore the intergenerational relationships, trust, and the ability to listen to each other, as well as the need to know and accept it, when it’s time for parents to let their children fly out of the family nest,” – Giovanni shares his vision.
“It was a challenge for us – to launch a co-production for a film relying only on our own resources, without the support from the government or any external funds. It was important for us to set a precedent when our idea was taken up by a commercial European partner! And it happened. We wish good luck to the team during the filming process, and we are looking forward to meeting you all at the cinema!” – comments Victoria Yarmoshchuk, CEO FILM.UA Group.
The filming of Koza Nostra takes place in the Carpathian mountains on September 15th-16th and is going to move to Italy next, specifically to Rome and Sicily. By the way, according to the director, who first visited the Carpathians this summer and was astonished by the beauty of Ukrainian nature, the Carpathians should symbolize a paradise lost by the lead heroine.
The author behind an original idea and a scriptwriter for the project, Anastasiia Lodkina promise: “Hot Sicily, Carpathian forests, pizza and borsch, a hot boiling mix of Italian hits from the golden years of San Remo Festival and authentic Hutsul tunes – the audience will be treated with a kaleidoscope of Italian and Ukrainian cultures, tastes, and colors. It will be fun, bright, loud, and delicious!”
Koza Nostra is produced for RAI Cinema (the film division of the National TV and Radio Company of Italy). And it’s the largest co-production between Italy and Ukraine to date.
The premiere is scheduled for 2021.
Title: KOZA NOSTRA*
Genre: Feature-length family comedy with gangster comedy elements.
Running time: 100 min
Co-produced by: FILM UA Production (Ukraine), Pepito Produzioni (Italy)
Language: Italian and Ukrainian (In Ukraine – Ukrainian voiceover)
Filming: September-November 2020
Locations: Carpathian mountains (Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast), Sicily, Rome.
Ready: March 2021
Release date: 2021, major cinematic release in Italy and Ukraine
Director: Giovanni Dota
Original concept by: Anastasiia Lodkina
Scriptwriters: Anastasiia Lodkina, Matteo Visconti, Giovanni Dota, Giulia Magda Martinez
Producers: Kateryna Vyshnevska, Maria Grazia Saccà, Victor Mirsky, Agostino Saccà
Executive producer: Sergey Demidov
Cinematographer: Carlo Rinaldi
Costume designer: Marina Roberti
Production designer: Maurizio Leonardi
Editor: Giorgia Curra
Cast: Irma Vitovska (Vlada Kosa), Giovanni Calcagno (Fredo Lagana), Giuditta Vasile (Francesca Lagana), Lorenzo Scalzo (Luca Lagana), Gabriele Cicirello (Gianni Lagana), Yuliia Sobol (Maria Spatolini-Koza)
Pepito Produzioni is an independent film and television company founded in 2010. The company has 9 feature films, 13 TV comedy films, 5 series, three of them being documentaries. The company has won three Ciak d’Oro awards, five Nastri d’Argento awards, the Italian Golden Globe, and the David di Donatello award, as well as the Silver Bear Berlinale 2020 for best screenplay.
FILM.UA Group – a creative powerhouse and one of the largest Eastern European media groups, operating in global markets and covering the full production cycle: development, production, adaptation, and distribution of audiovisual content through the vertical business structure.
*Note: a wordplay on the name of the criminal organization Cosa Nostra and the name of the main character – Vlada Koza.