The Heroine’s Journey of Lara Celenza

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

The playfulness. Especially in the writing process. It’s like starting from a blank canvas and painting a whole Universe onto it. I also really love working with actors before the shoot. Watching them “play” the part – literally become someone else, and guiding them through the transformation.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Expressing myself to the full, breaking the rules and overcoming the financial constrictions associated with filmmaking. Creating with freedom in my own unique way. And also, very important – surrounding myself with souls who truly vibe with me.

What is my greatest fear?

Permanence. I fear that things are going to stay the same and never change. Rationally, I know it doesn’t make any sense, because the Universe is in a constant state of flux. I need to learn to trust the flow of life more.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

None. I have come to a point in my life where I love and accept myself for who I am. Of course there are aspects of myself that I would like to improve. However, I try to approach them with an attitude of compassion instead of criticism.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

Right now, my hat is off to all the women who are finally giving us a voice in the film industry: female producers, directors, screenwriters, and so on. This is why Natalie MacMahon and I founded Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin: to celebrate female talent!

What is my greatest extravagance?

Where do I even begin? I am a Starseed, I am obsessed with space travel, I experience psychedelic journeys and shamanic trance, I read runes and tarot cards. I totally embrace how weird I am, and whoever has a problem with that is welcome to gravitate away. I have more than enough awesome people in my life right now, who love and support me.

On what occasion would I lie?

I strive for authenticity. Being authentic makes me happier, healthier and more successful. However, I sometimes tell the odd white lie to avoid hurting other people’s feelings.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

The brutal budgetary constraints. They have taught me to be the ultimate out-of-the-box thinker, but I have learned my lessons. I am ready to let them go and open a new chapter.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

When I was shooting my first short in Italy and we were all a bunch of (almost) clueless amateurs. Every day was an adventure. I haven’t lost the spirit though, luckily, and I still carry it with me every day. I don’t consider myself an expert at anything, and I approach every task with open-minded curiosity.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would go back to my younger self and tell her not to waste any time trying to meet society’s expectations or trying to be there for people who don’t deserve it.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

I came from nothing and I built everything from scratch. Very few people in the film industry can relate. Privilege is a powerful factor and I had to go all my life without it. I know what it’s like to have a real job and I can truly understand what most people are facing and feeling. As a filmmaker, this gives me a unique perspective. Maybe it’s a different kind of privilege?

Where would I most like to live?

Somewhere hot and sunny, on the beach, not too far from the forest. I am a sea animal, and I need nature. It would be great if this dream place also had an international expat crowd. I cannot adjust to close-knit communities – I’m too weird and I don’t want to make an effort to fit in.

What is my most treasured possession?

My cats, Kinski and Kali. I don’t consider them as possessions, but I most definitely treasure them. They are my family and my best friends.

What is my most marked characteristic?

I’m a great uplifter. I’ve had a hard life and I wish to help others have a better ride. So I encourage them whenever I can.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

The forests around Berlin. Nature makes me feel connected. I love meditating under a full moon with my feet in the grass.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

So many! I’m a giant foodie! I’d say Good Friends for Chinese, Papa No for Asian fusion, Buddha Haus for Nepalese and Tibetan, Stranero for pizza, The Bird for burgers. Thai and Vietnamese restaurants are generally great in Berlin. And there’s many fantastic vegetarian and vegan places. My favourite cuisine is Chinese but I happily try anything.

What books influenced my life and how?

A few years ago, as I was going through my dark night of the soul, I discovered contemporary spirituality – the so-called “New Thought” authors (I’m not too fond of the expression “New Age”). They inspired me to reprogram all my beliefs. These days I’m ready to dig deeper, so I’m studying a lot of ancient and modern esoteric literature. I’m an avid reader and researcher.

Who are my favorite writers?

Terence McKenna, Wayne Dyer, Joe Dispenza, Teal Swan, Bentinho Massaro, Eckhart Tolle, Neville Goddard, Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Deepak Chopra to name just a few.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

I’m a rock chick but on my last day I would probably listen to some Indian mystical music. To prepare myself for the big journey.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Neo in The Matrix. He breaks free from the constrictions of reality and masters his own power. Self-actualization is my Holy Grail.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My teenage nephews, Martina and Arcangelo. They are incredibly smart, quirky and funny. I wish I had been that great at that age! They are my heroes because they give me hope for a better future.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

“Until the End of the World” by Wim Wenders. An incredibly poetic film about love and the vastness of planet Earth.

What role does art play in my life and work?

Is there anything else but art? Life itself is creation and therefore art. When I’m in the flow, creating art, I forget all my problems and my ego goes to sleep. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

Natalie MacMahon. She is my partner-in-crime at Kalifilm Productions and Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin. Natalie is a ray of sunshine. She always looks at the bright side and never lets a setback bring her down.

Whom would I like to work with in 2020?

I’d like to work with actors who set a healthy, positive example for the world. For instance, the beautiful Michelle Williams, who is a fervent advocate for gender equality. I’d also love to work with Erin Richards. She’s incredibly talented and I believe she’s going to be real big real soon. As a music video director, I’d love to direct for The Kills – I’ve seen them live, Allison and Jamie have such a special chemistry between them!

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2020?

A genius producer who specialises in film finance. Somebody who is truly interested in what we do and has the ambition and the expertise to work on international co-productions. We have three features in development, including a road movie set in 4 different countries. We need proper funding to pump into the next projects.

What project, in 2020, am I looking forward to work on?

I can’t wait to wrap my first feature “Lost in the City” – it’s the story of a deranged homeless man who wages a furious personal vendetta against the banking system. We are in the final stages of post-production. Once the film is ready for distribution, I’ll start writing again.

Where can you see me or my work in 2020?

On my company’s website https://www.kalifilmproductions.com/.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

If you don’t work, you don’t need to retire. You are one with your art – it’ll be with you until the day of your passing.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? 

My partner-in-crime, Natalie MacMahon.

And also:

Mel Hofmann, artist and holistic healer.

Dalai Cellai, cellist and composer.

Sofia Stavrianidou, director of Hellas Filmbox Berlin – the Greek Film Festival.

Francesca Bonci, animator.

Vicky De Bruyne, artist.

Susan Johnston, director of New Media Film Festival Los Angeles.

Catherine Stobbs, actress.

Alia Spizz Clay, fashion designer.

Roberta Fiano, art curator.

How can you contact me?

Through my personal website https://www.laracelenza.com/. I’m also pretty much omnipresent on social media. I receive a heavy load of messages so I’m not always able to reply, but I do my best to stay connected.

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