Once again in the middle of the sea to lay bare desires, hopes, and realities of the characters and the world under investigation. Once again set on a boat, this time lost in the Croatian sea, the sophomore feature by Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli, Likemeback, is competing in the Cineasti del presente section of the Locarno Film Festival.

A story that is deeply linked to his first film, Last Summer, not only for the setting, but especially for the urgency of showing those mysterious dynamics happening among people who think they know themselves, but who has a hard time talking to themselves in fact. There’s also something more in Likemeback because this story of three girls who leave on a boat trip to celebrate the end of the high school, tackles the world of social media too. As the director states: “It’s still a mysterious universe in many respects, that made real life much more complicated because it’s a sort of no man’s land that have rules but not norms. I wanted to tackles exactly these issues: the consequences of a superficial use of the social media, the difficulties of self-regulation, the potential problems they create in the relations of friendship, which are characterized by a promiscuity of real and virtual aspects still looking for clear ethical rules.”

In order to achieve this, Seràgnoli focuses on the most vulnerable subjects when it comes to social media and cyber-bullying: three young women, for the first time far from home, closely linked to their virtual life. It’s just this virtual dimension that takes over when these female characters have the chance to handle freedom for the first time in their life. “I chose three female characters ,who by the way represent three different types of femininity, because I wanted to distance myself from what I was recounting. I could have chosen three boys of the same age, but it wouldn’t be the same. The risk was that of staging an inner monologue, while I wanted to shape a dialogue, dive as a scientist into a semi-unknown object. That’s what I did. The film has been developed in an experimental way through a constant open dialogue with the actresses, who helped me give voice to their generation and find that close gaze that I was looking for. An example of this hard but fundamental work has been the creation of a shared Instagram profile that contributed to shaping the characters, in an intended ambiguity aiming to constantly blur the boundary between actress and character.”

Three young actresses play the characters: Blu Yoshimi (seen in Roan Johnson’s Feather), Angela Fontana (seen in Edoardo De Angelis’ Indivisible) and Denise Tantucci (known for TV series Red Bracelets). In the words of Blu Yoshimi: “We worked closely together, confronting these extreme characters who were not always like us in the real life, but for this same reason pushed us to give our best.” Denise Tantucci instead underlines that “it’s been like a psychotherapy session. My character is very close to me, so it’s been quite difficult to draw a line between the character and myself. This ongoing ambiguity between real and virtual has been the most effective way to find in the film the most authentic portrait of our generation.” Angela Fontana admits that playing her character has been an actual journey into the unknown. “I was playing someone who doesn’t look like me at all, a blogger who lives completely immersed in her virtual life. It’s been difficult to make her believable at first. So I studied and discovered a lot about a world that was unknown to me”

The main characteristic of the film is the creation of an aesthetics that convey that of the social media on screen. Produced by Nightswim, Essentia, Indiana Production with Rai Cinema and coproduced by Antitalent, the film is still looking for distribution in Italy, but as Seràgnoli states “what we want now is to present the film in festivals, we want to show it in front of an audience and spark debate. To me, that’s the most important part of the job.”