Sara Serraiocco, one of the leading roles in IT-LU-BE production Io Sto Bene, was in Venice at for the occasion of the Venice Film Festival when she took my call.

I managed to catch her for a quick on-the-go chat between destinations, during which we discussed her professional history, her experience of the role, and her impressions of Luxembourg.
A quick summary for those who have yet to see the feature: Io Sto Bene explores the multiculturalism of Luxembourg from the perspective of Italian immigrants across generations. Leo, a graphic artist and DJ, crosses paths with Antonio, who never returned to his native Italy after leaving a lifetime earlier.

A Luxembourg first-timer, Sara did not expect to find all the Grand Duchy had to offer, and had much praise to give: “It’s a small country but they have everything! You can find restaurants, bars, museums… I was really pleasantly surprised.”

It is at this point where the small city syndrome kicks in, and I mention that I in fact worked in the bar Serraiocco’s character did in the film (you don’t need to be that much of a local to recognise Rocas and the Jimi Hendrix portrait splashed across the interior wall). We have a giggle.

In general, Sara spoke enthusiastically about her experiences, both on set and in Luxembourg: “There was a great energy on set and I was so happy to be there, to be in Luxembourg […] We were a big family working on a new project and that’s amazing.”

As we move on to discuss her character in the film, Sara mentions feeling a certain affinity towards the struggling musician: a former dancer and dance teacher, Sara had to was pushed towards an unexpected career change after breaking her ankle in 5 places.

“I had my big break in 2013 and it changed my life. Leo was also looking for a different life, she was so tough and fragile at the same time, and I was interested in that part of her character. She wanted to escape from her life, but are we sure she really wanted to? I think she just needed to find herself, and this psychological development was interesting to me as an actor.”

Io Sto Bene, as a film, relies on this continuous juxtaposition, particularly rife within early adulthood: old and new, push and pull, departure and return. Caught between carving out new spaces and yearning for familiarity, Io Sto Bene illustrates the painful loneliness that often accompanies experiences and opportunities away from the cradle of the home.

“I was fascinated by the story and by Leo. She is a complex character, she is vulnerable because she wants to create a life [in Luxembourg] but at the same time she feels lost. Day by day she finds her path, and at the end of the film she discovers her way, a little. She grows up as a person and as a woman.”

We see this crossroads of comfort, tradition and restriction not only in Leo, but also in Antonio, who first travelled to Luxembourg in the 60s.

“[Leo] wants to create a different life, and at the same time [Antonio] was also trying to do that in his life. There are two generations that meet and recognise the same emotions, the same path – his past, her present – they have the same humanity. History teaches us that life always changes but we can meet people who are older than us and they can teach us something.”

Repetition seems inevitable in the cycle of life, whether it be throughout one life, or across individuals, cultures, nations and generations. But far from this being seen as futile, Io Sto Bene creates a scenario where the old learn from the young, and vice versa. In a society where generations are often alienated from each other, it was touching to see a bond grow between Leo and Antonio.

Finally, I asked Sara whether she recognised the particular difficulties of leaving Italy, about leaving home. We talked about the things that keep us both moored as well as stuck – family, culture, expectation – and the effort it takes to break out:

“Leo wanted to be a DJ, an artist, but what she wasn’t expecting about Luxembourg was real life.”

Alas, real life brings with it many unforeseen trials and tribulations, often left unconsidered by those venturing outwards. But this is probably for the better, otherwise no one would ever leave.