“Every time you write and direct a movie,” says director Evan Oppenheimer. “It is personal. It springs out of usually some kind of emotional experience at the least.”
Lost In Florence centers on Eric (Brett Dalton), an athlete whose romantic trip to Florence leads to heartbreak after his girlfriend (Emily Atack) rejects his proposal. With a little support from his cousin (Stana Katic) and her husband (Marco Bonini), Eric is back on his feet, finding passion in a traditional sport of Calico Storico. He also finds love with Stefania (Alessandra Mastronardi), who’s also the girlfriend of his Calcio Storico teammate Paolo (Alessandro Preziosi).
Oppenheimer’s Lost in Florence journey began years ago, as he lived in the city the summer before he attended graduate school. Over the years he would return to Florence to work on the movie’s screenplay and, more importantly, marry his soulmate.
“My wife and I got married in Florence on New Year’s Eve,” says the filmmaker. “Actually in Fiesole, a town right above Florence which is right where Eric and Stefania have their outdoor love scene. You’re actually looking right at the castle where my wife and I got married – it’s an amazing thing.”
Along with its layered storytelling (Lost in Florence thankfully gives substantial time to the supporting players, giving the narrative an extra level of depth), the movie effectively captures Calcio Storico. Oppenheimer and his production shot extensive scenes at the stadium, which is built from scratch every year at the Piazza Santa Croce.
“We have footage of our guys in the middle of this maelstrom,” says Oppenheimer. “If we hadn’t been able to do that, we would have had to do it through visual effects to kind of create the background. But it wouldn’t have been the same. It really makes it feel real when you see your actors there in the true locations surrounded by thousands of screaming fans.”
With a science fiction thriller (The Speed of Thought), a romantic comedy (Alchemy), and now a romantic drama/sports film hybrid (Lost in Florence) under his belt, Oppenheimer can never be accused of creative repetition. I ask him if, even with these vastly different stories, there is a singular thread that runs throughout his work.
“Because they’re all different genres, it’s hard to find a thread,” says Oppenheimer. “But I think all of the things we’ve been talking about with this movie are things that have always been with me and are probably always with everybody. The desire to understand who you are and what your future is going to be. The search for self-definition. It’s the most basic human quest.”
Lost in Florence is now playing in select theaters and is available on VOD.