Thirty-two year-old Italian director Alice Rohrwacher returns to the Croisette with Competition entry The Wonders (Le Meraviglie), a coming-of-age story set in the Italian countryside. 

In keeping with her first film Corpo Celeste, Le Meraviglie draws on experiences from Rohrwacher’s own childhood.

“I wanted to tell a story that speaks about how landscape is changing,” says the writer-director. “The region of middle Italy is my homeland and I wanted to frame a story within a changing landscape.”

“This is a film about tradition and asks the question: what is tradition?,” she continues.

“It’s a question that’s not only relevant to Italians. It seems that all over the world people are questioning who they are and what their roots are.”

The drama, which stars youngster Maria Alexandra Lungu in the lead role alongside Sam Louwyk and Monica Bellucci, marks the first-time Rohrwacher has directed her sister, the established actress Alba Rohrwacher.

“She was a great help during the writing of the film,” explains the younger sibling. “I wanted to make a film about a first-born girl so of course Alba provided me with inspiration.”

Rohrwacher’s career remains one of the brightest lights in a recently undernourished Italian film sector. The director is philosophical but sanguine about the future of filmmaking in the territory.

“There are a lot of good young Italian directors. But as with many countries we are perhaps lacking a movement. It can be quite a solitary process but with determination everything is possible.”

At a time when the industry spotlight is also on the lack of women directors, she also sees some encouraging signs from her local industry: “It’s sad that we have to speak about this issue but also important to shine a light on it. That said, there are strong female Italian voices out there including Francesca Comencini, Francesca Archibuji and now Asia Argento.”