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“Mordraud” Director Riccardo Piana, left, with the book’s author Fabio Scalini at Comic-Con in San Diego last week where the short film made a strong impression on audiences. Photo by Noah S. Lee
“Mordraud” Director Riccardo Piana, left, with the book’s author Fabio Scalini at Comic-Con in San Diego last week where the short film made a strong impression on audiences. Photo by Noah S. Lee
Arts Rancho Santa Fe

‘Mordraud’ short film makes a strong impression at Comic-Con

During the 2014 Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, the Italian short film adaptation of the book “Mordraud” emerged as a finalist in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category.

The audience responded with many intricate questions, both technical and story-related, which signified the likelihood of many readers for author Fabio Scalini and many viewers for director Riccardo Piana.

The first in a four-part medieval fantasy saga, “Mordraud” is about the tragic story of three brothers who grow up in a climate dripping with hatred and remorse. Compelled to drown their pasts in a destiny defined by blood and oblivion, they seek revenge on the battlefield.

Currently available as an Italian eBook, the English version of “Mordraud” will be published online.

I landed an exclusive interview with Fabio Scalini and Riccardo Piana, who were more than happy to discuss the book and its short film, their Comic-Con experience, their hopeful plans for the “Mordraud” project, and more.


First off, Fabio Scalini, congratulations on your novel “Mordraud”; words alone cannot express the magnitude of your incredible imagination in terms of the mythology you’ve established. What inspired you to construct this tragic epic?

It’s difficult to say what inspired me, because the story is very, very old. I started to write “Mordraud” when I was around 20 years old, 12 years ago. The story itself is even older than that, but I never had the courage to put it down on paper. I think that my story is original enough to say that it is all my own.


How did you (Riccardo Piana) hear of “Mordraud,” and what was it like getting to collaborate with Mr. Scalini?

Everything began with me reading the book. I found the story to be original and powerful as a drama that I thought it would be ideal for adapting onto the screen. Fabio and I met, and we began a beautiful friendship as well as a professional relationship, and from there, we worked together and produced the film. It’s been a very long work-in-progress.


Fabio, what makes the short film adaptation work is that it makes “Mordraud” faithfully recognizable to readers and astonishingly fascinating to newcomers. Did you find it challenging to reach a creative balance between the two extremes?

It was a very difficult job because the book is so long and it’s also part of a longer work, and by its nature, the short film is a very short work, so I had to condense a lot of information into a few minutes onscreen. In order to maintain a balance, we decided to focus on the hate between the brothers and then the pain that this hate produces between them.


Riccardo, I like how your short film take on “Mordraud” hits the main points that provide the storyline and its characters with their collective backbone, as well as conveying a heart-pounding atmosphere that imbues it with a rich complexity. When you heard it was going to Comic-Con, what was your reaction to the news then and now?

I received a call from Fabio, and we both screamed on the telephone. It was a great surprise and a great honor to be accepted to come here and present the film at San Diego. I can say, with great certainty, we’re very satisfied with our experience here and very happy, especially after having done so much hard work. We’re very happy with the level of appreciation that we’ve encountered here.


Fabio, I’ve heard there are plans not only to develop a cultural project to delve into the influence of the Middle Ages in the fantasy genre, but also to contact video game developers to expand the novel’s international reach…

One of the principal objectives is to find ways to collaborate in order to expand the “Mordraud” project, and this is the reason why we’re here at Comic-Con. We already have much material that’s already ready that could be used in order to develop a video game.

In Italy, we’ve actually already introduced “Mordraud” to an academic audience; one of our main interests is also to expand our project into the American universities. The Italian fantasy can be a new type of fantasy that reaches a much different level, culturally, than all the other types of fantasy that are out there right now, so it’s very distinguishing.


Mr. Piana, considering the significant role you played in bringing “Mordraud” to life through visual form, are you going to have a hand in shaping future adaptations of the book, or is your current focus on other equally inspiring yet unrelated projects?

Fabio and I have always discussed how “Mordraud” would be best adapted to a television series. It’s such a complex plot and there are so many characters that really it would be a shame to only present one short film or even a few very brief films, but instead being able to expand it in a way that they’d be able to really value and respect the intricacies of the plot that are presented in the series.