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An Interview with the Co - Creators of Musica Quarantena from the Atlanta Film Festival

Updated: May 3, 2022

Image from Musica Quarantena (Short Animated Film)

Musica Quarantena

(short animated film)

A little girl’s love for her bedridden Papa inspires a town in lockdown to make music out their windows.

starring Elisa del Genio (HBO's My Brilliant Friend) created by Danielle Rhoda & Lilian T. Mehrel Animation & Animation direction by Danielle Rhoda Written & Directed by Lilian T. Mehrel

Atlanta Film Festival 2022

Atlanta Film and TV: You both came together during the pandemic. Could you share how you met and why it was important to share this animation with the world?

Co-Creators of Musica Quarantena, Lilian Mehrel, and Danielle Rhoda

Atlanta Film and TV: You both came together during the pandemic. Could you share how you met and why it was important to share this animation with the world?

Lilian Mehrel and Danielle Rhoda: It was March 2020, and all over the world, people were quarantined. Danielle was in Manchester, UK, and Lilian was in Brooklyn, NY. They were connected across an ocean by Panimation, an online community of women/trans/non-binary animators. Posts from Studio Desk and Quarantine Collab asked for creatives interested in collaborating; Lilian and Danielle found each other there.

Danielle is an illustrator & animator with a deep, sensitive, intuitive style. Lilian is a writer & director who holds light and dark with a sense of humor and hope. Both are women from multicultural backgrounds (Danielle is Ghanian/Polish, now living in Barcelona after the UK, and Lilian is the daughter of Kurdish-Persian/Ashkenazi immigrants in the US), with a shared passion for reflecting the diversity and the beauty of human stories.

Amidst sorrow and loss, there is life. Like the Italians, singing from their balconies in lockdown. We wanted to capture this moment of light in the dark with a simple, universal story: about a little girl singing to her beloved bedridden Papa, inspiring an entire city to make music out their windows.

We created a global story without dialogue, that can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter their language or age, with the universal language of music.

Atlanta Film and TV: How would you say this animation differs from other animations?

Lilian Mehrel and Danielle Rhoda: Danielle created hand-drawn animation on stacks and stacks of paper. She colored it with a mix of hand-painting and digital fill.

Typically there is a more linear process from storyboard to sketch, animatic to the final polish. But Danielle and Lilian created their own process in a true collaborative spirit and learned a lot along the way.

Image from Musica Quarantena

Our team was small, and entirely female/non-binary: co-creators Danielle & Lilian, our star Elisa, sound designer Sarah Gibble-Laska, additional color (Poppy Loughtman), and additional sound (Nori Hung).

It is also uniquely designed for people from all over to experience, no matter their language or age. It is a story that affected us all (global lockdown and the universal themes of love and loss) - we also dedicated it to all of us in the global pandemic.

Atlanta Film and TV: Animation usually takes a long time to create. How long did it take to create Musica Quarentena?

Lilian Mehrel and Danielle Rhoda: Since it was a passion project, Danielle and Lilian worked on it whenever they could. They began in April 2020, and was complete in April 2022. Two years of late nights and love went into it.

Early Sketch of Musica Quarantena

4. How did you get the attention of Elisa del Genio from HBO's My Brilliant Friend?

Lilian Mehrel and Danielle Rhoda:Elisa del Genio is a young Italian actress who stars in the widely-loved HBO's, My Brilliant Friend as the young Elana Greco. We are in awe of her brilliant talent and the emotion she conveys with the most subtle of moments.

We wanted to honor Italy, and Elisa was our dream lead to voice the little girl in Musica Quarantena.

We sent the film to her agency, DO Cinema, and they kindly shared it with Elisa. It resonated with her, and she generously accepted our invitation to star in the project. A donation was made in her name, and was also made to a charity to help children.

When she said yes, it felt like magic. A dream come true! We are so happy to have such an incredible star bringing our film to life.