An actress inspired by a visit to the museum, has written a screenplay set on the homefront during World War Two. Claryn Scott originally from Liverpool now based in Salford, penned Enemy of the Heart following a visit to the Liverpool Maritime and Pier Head. The film centres around an Irish Italian family living in the UK during the outbreak of war. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when Italy joins forces with Germany to attack the country they’ve come to call home. The museum exhibition featured a model replica of the S.S Arandora Star, which set sail from the Pier Head in July 1940 with around 1,600 internees of Italian, German and Austrian heritage onboard. Destined for Canada, the ship was torpedoed by a German U boat just two days after it set sail. More than 800 men lost their lives in the tragedy. A memorial currently stands at the Pier Head. The research took several months prior to the script development.
Speaking about the process, Claryn said: “I’ve always loved historical dramas and had already begun the research when we entered lockdown. All of a sudden I had the time to focus entirely on the script. I later posted a casting call and the response was overwhelming. So many people said they were unaware of the circumstances surrounding the Arandora Star. It’s a part of history that’s almost unknown.” Claryn whose credits include Film, TV and theatre portraying Sylvia Plath and Portia in Julius Caesar, plays a principal role in the production alongside Mattia Paradiso as Giovanni Cipriani, an Italian father of three, interned as an ‘enemy alien’ due to Mussolini’s allegiance with Germany. In June 1940, riots erupted througout the UK with Italian businesses destroyed in the process. Many of these Italian men were self-sufficient, creating jobs during a time when unemployment had reached a capacity of two million. They settled in Britain, married and raised their children. Overnight, on June 10, 1940, they were deemed Enemy Aliens, interned and sent aboard the S. S Arandora Star. Meanwhile, the sons of these Italian men who were born and raised in the UK, had begun serving in the British forces, as allies to Britain against Germany. Micheal Dolan plays the role of Giovanni’s son Tomas, who begins service in the British Expeditionary Force on the outbreak of war. Claryn continued: “I wanted to show the complexities of what was happening to the Italian communities living in Britain during this time. For those like Tomas who were born in Britain, it was an extremely complex situation as these soldiers had family and friends who were serving in the Italian forces. The Italian fathers of the sons serving for Britain, were then being interned as they were considered a potential threat to national security.” Claryn was fortunate to find an Italian actor to play the principal role of Giovanni Cipriani just yards from her home in Salford. She continued “When I was developing the script, I kept thinking, how will I find someone here who can bring Giovanni to life? It was impolant to cast an Italian man who could relate to the isolation Giovanni would have felt coming to Britain without knowing anyone. It’s important also as these events are real and they affected so many Italian people here in Britain. Their grandchildren know about this history. It’s vital we are respectful to those who lost their lives and their families.” Claryn continued: “I searched for three months for suitable actors and then came across Mattia’s showreel and knew instantly, I’d found Giovanni. We talked online and then when we finally met, we realised we’d been living just a few yards away from one another. Mattia was initially living in Cedric Street opposite my home in Annie Street. It all came together when Mattia joined the cast. It sounds a little lovey, but we just clicked and became like a family. Everyone on set had such passion for the story, I couldn’t have wished for more and I do believe, after such a lengthy search, finding Mattia was definately fate. It was meant to be.” Enemy of the Heart is currently in post production and due for release later in the year.
An Italian actor who moved to Britain to improve his English has landed a lead role in a drama set on the Homefront during World War Two. Mattia Paradiso from Puglia, Southern Italy, moved to Cedric Street, Salford when he first arrived four years ago. He plays father of three Giovanni Cipriani in the wartime film, Enemy of the Heart. Inspired by true events, the production created by Claryn Scott, centres around an Anglo-Italian family living in England during the outbreak of war. Overnight on June 10, 1940, Mr. Cipriani is interned as an ‘enemy alien’ and extradited to Canada aboard the S.S Arandora Star when Italy joins forces with Germany to attack the country he’s come to call home. In June 1940, the Government instructed police forces to arrest all of the ‘dangerous characters’ on an MI5 list as well as Italian men aged 17 to 60 with less than 20 years residency in the UK. Around 1,600 internees of Italian, German and Austrian heritage were sent aboard the ill-fated liner, torpedoed in Ireland by a German Uboat in July 1940, just two days after it set sail from Liverpool. Many of the 800 men who perished were shop workers, barbers and labourers. A memorial of the tragedy currently stands at Liverpool’s Pier Head. In Enemy of the Heart, Giovanni’s son Tomas (Michael Dolan) born in England, serves in the British Expeditionary Force in Dunkirk. Anglo Italian men across the country including those from the Ancoats’ Italian community, signed up and fought for the Allies against Germany. Meanwhile, their fathers and grandfathers were being interned whilst anti-Italian riots erupted throughout the UK in response to Mussolini’s allegiance with Hitler. Mattia who trained as an actor in Rome before moving to Salford, explained his experience of working on the production: “I soon felt that I was part of something special. I can not compare myself and my situation with how Italians were feeling at the time, but I can definitely say that filming was a roller coaster of emotions. I felt every scene and every line. The role of Giovanni had a profound impact on me, not only because of his heartbreaking story line, but also because he offered me the opportunity to explore an expression of fatherhood and the unique bond shared between a father and his children.” Mattia’s character Giovanni is widowed eight years before war begins and he raises his three children Tomas (Michael Dolan), Maria (Lucy Wareing) and Luca (Jack O’Connor) whilst running a successful restaurant in the Little Italy community. This remarkably mirrors some of Mattia’s own journey from his Italian roots through to his successful catering business in Castlefield, Manchester. For those who have attended the foodmarkets GRUB, Great Northern Makers Market and the Lowry Outlet Square, you’ll recognise Mattia as the face of Paradiso Athentic Italian. Mattia uses his grandmother’s secret recipes to create a range of culinary delights including his ever popular, Tiramisu. Mattia continued: “I have felt so welcomed in the UK and that feels poignant whilst telling the story of an italian rejected by his adoptive country. The chance to work with some exceptionally talented young actors playing my children, Maria, Tomas and especially Luca was one that I cherished very dearly.” Enemy of the Heart is in the post production process and will be launched onto the international festival circuit from September.