Katrina Hicks interviews Italian born educator, writer and scriptwriter, Federica Pannocchia. Also known as, FEDE Federica provides the children of today, and the young adults of the next generation with platforms to better their own perspectives and morals in life. Federica does so through running workshops, exhibitions, and meetings with Holocaust Survivors.
Federica is the Executive Director for Italian Organisation, “Un Ponte Per Anne Frank” – Italian partner of the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam. In 2013, Federica wrote the book, “Quando dal cielo cadevano le stelle” – When the stars fallen from the sky. This led to Federica establishing a bond with the only surviving family member of Anne Frank, her cousin Buddy Elias.
On November 20th 2021, Federica launched the new YouTube series, “The real ME”. The series allows the young with a platform to be heard, to be seen, and to make a societal difference. Federica is also scriptwriter for the short film, “Il Nostro Nome è Anna” – Our Name is Anne. The film participated in International Film Festivals, hailing as the winner of five festivals.
Katrina: “Hi Federica, thank you once again for reaching out to me. It truly is a privilege to speak with you. First of all, congratulations on the success of your short film, “Il Nostro Nome è Anna”. You must be very proud. When writing the film’s script, what was the main message you felt needed to be shared?”
Federica:”Thank you so much to you for having me, it is a true honour for me to be here with you. And thanks so much to everyone who is going to read this interview and spend a couple of minutes with us. I am so grateful and honoured about ‘Il nostro nome è Anna’ because when I had the idea, I could never have imagined that it would have been produced by two important Italian movie productions! Also having the leading role in, Ludovica Nasti (a very famous and amazing Italian young actress, and a person that I admire so much). It really involved so many people. Everyone was so special, and I couldn’t have done it without them all. Also, it is reaching students, winning awards in international film festivals… it is a big dream, and I am so grateful about it. When I was writing the film’s script, to me it was important to include Anne Frank’s ideals in a way that could relate to the next generation – but not only – encouraging them to be heard and seen. We can all play our part to build a better society and we shouldn’t wait for others to do it. In our movie, Anna helps homeless people, fights against bullies, helps her friends, meets an immigrant child and ultimately she decides to answer to hate with love, believing in herself, and celebrating who she is really is. Those were the most important messages for me, and continue to be.”
Katrina: “I was really intrigued to read about your friendship with, Buddy Elias. Being the final surviving member of the Frank family, forming such a unique bond must have felt like such an honour! What do you feel you gained the most from your connection with him?”
Federica: “To be able to connect with Buddy, cousin of Anne and Margot Frank, has been a real gift for me. From the very first time Buddy answered back to my email, he showed me all his love and support for what I was trying to achieve: opening a Foundation in Italy after the name of Anne Frank. Buddy had a good heart and a very great sense of humour. I will always regret that we were never able to meet in person. We missed two occasions sadly. The first one did not work out, but for the second one everything was ready. Then Buddy started to feel ill and, unfortunately he was then gone. Buddy’s love and support meant the world to me and still does. I daily feel Buddy close to me. He taught me to never give up and to continue to try my best to build a better society. Buddy’s help changed my life, for good, and I will always be grateful and honoured for all the long emails that we wrote to one another.”
Katrina: “Tell me more about your partnership with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and your role as Executive Director for ‘Un Ponte Per Anne Frank’. What do you enjoy the most being within this role?”
Federica: “Being the Executive Director of the Italian organisation ‘Un ponte per Anne Frank’ is a big honour for me. When I opened my charity, I couldn’t even think that one day it would have become the Italian partner of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, one of the most visited Museums in the whole world. So, first of all, I encourage everyone to chase their dreams. About my role, I love the fact that I can plan new educational programs, creating them from my own mind, whilst also respecting the needs of students. I love that I can work a lot with the next generation, not only by ‘teaching’ them, but most importantly, by listening to them. Children and teenagers have so much to tell us. They are our hope, our present and our future.”
Katrina: “You recently launched your new YouTube series, ‘The real ME’. Tell me more about what to expect from the series, and what your desired end goal for the series is?”
Federica: “‘The real ME’ is a new Youtube series that features children and teenagers from all over the world, with different backgrounds, religions and experiences in life. The aim is to give a voice to everyone. It is such a fun and amazing experience to connect with people from all over the world, and I am learning so much from those interviews. We have got so many awesome guests and I am grateful to each of them. ‘The real ME’ encourages everyone to speak up and to remain ourselves, celebrating our authenticity and individuality. The goal is to create a series where children and teenagers from all over the world can be seen and heard, but also where everyone can feel included and be a part of a fully accepting and supportive family.”
Katrina: “You work with over 6,000 children and teenagers every year. What exactly does this entail? Does your own work also inspire you to better your own self, whilst in the process of helping others?”
Federica: “This is not ‘work’ for me, but it is something that I need to do. I totally believe in the next generation, and it is important for me to let them know that they are not alone. It means so much to me to encourage children and teenagers to fight against any form of bullying, racism, discrimination and indifference, but also to celebrate their authenticity and individuality. By doing so, I learn so much about myself too. I also learn a lot about issues of today shared by children and teenagers. It is an open dialogue. I talk to them, and they talk to me and by doing so I reflect a lot about what’s happening around us and on my own daily choices. I think within every experience, there’s always so much to learn and the students teach me so much and I am very grateful for them.”
Katrina: “I have read about your love of travelling. I understand that you currently reside in London, how do you find living here? I’ve lived in London for my whole life and I must admit, I can find it very overwhelming at times.”
Federica: “I love travelling and I hope to be able to volunteer in India soon. I also would like to visit Australia and go to Cambodia, Dominic Republic, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana and Philippines, where my sponsored children live. About London, I really like to live here. I miss the Italian food and the weather, but I am enjoying London very much because of the different cultures and many opportunities.”
Katrina: “Where else in the world have you travelled? Where stands out the most, and why?”
Federica: “I have been to the States, Spain and France, however, I think Krakow means the most to me. Before the pandemic, I usually went there once per year, (since 2016) by accompanying students and citizens to visit the city and numerous Holocaust Sites, such as, the Jewish ghetto, Oskar Schindler’s Factory and, of course, Auschwitz – Birkenau concentration camp. I usually go there with other educators, and we create a whole new family, composed by different people believing in the same ideals. Doing experiences like that taught me a lot and made me the person I am today.”
Katrina: “What’s next for you in the upcoming new year, 2022? What’s been your personal highlight of 2021?”
Federica: “I have got so many projects as I never stop planning things! 2022 is going to be (hopefully) full of workshops, screenings, theatre plays that I have written, more episodes of ‘The Real ME!’, new books… there are so many things I am still wanting to do and so many people I want to meet so we will see. The important thing is to continue to believe in ourselves. Talking about 2021, I think the biggest highlight has been to release the short movie ‘Il nostro nome è Anna – Our name is Anne’. This is more than a short movie to me, to us, it is a mission and sometimes when I think about all the achievements, I think I am living in a dream! To be able to spread messages of hope, love, inclusion, and authenticity through cinema and with something that people and International Film Festival are awarding is incredible. And it came from my own mind! I still can’t believe it but I am very grateful for it. Honestly, I am very grateful about life in general. I think it is important to do not take things for granted, even the small stuff.”
Katrina: “Thank you once again, Federica. I look forward to more of “The real ME”. Keep in touch!”
Federica: “Thank you, Katrina for your amazing work. Thank you all so much for your support! It means the world to me.“