Blog—Source Material

A Medici Story Emerges from the Shadows

A Q&A with "Il Moro/The Moor" Director Daphne Di Cinto

Daphne Di Cinto director photo

Daphne Di Cinto attended the faculty of cinema at Sorbonne University in Paris before moving to New York for her Master’s in Fine Arts at the Actors Studio Drama School. She is currently based in London.

Daphne Di Cinto is the director of an award-winning short film, "Il Moro/The Moor," which tells the story of Alessandro de’ Medici, the illegitimate son of a servant of Moorish descent and Pope Clement VII. Di Cinto began her film and theater studies in Rome, where she focused on acting at Scuola di Cinema, while earning a degree in Communication Science from Roma Tre University. As an actor, she played the Duchess of Hastings in the Netflix series "Bridgerton." "Il Moro/The Moor," her directorial debut, will be shown at the Newberry on October 17 at 6pm. She joined us for a Q&A in advance of the event. 

NL: What captivated you most about Alessandro’s story, so much that you wanted to turn it into a film?

 Of course the fact that his background was kept in the shadows for so long is what stimulated my curiosity at first, what pushed me to research more and look into him. However, what really captivated me is that his life was short, but so incredibly intense and dramatic, constellated by so many interesting people all around him, some of which history barely mentions. Both Alessandro and all these characters are still surprisingly relatable today when looking at their humanity, flaws, dreams, and struggles. The story was asking to be translated visually and to be made into a TV series, because a film wouldn’t be enough time to tell it all. So, I wrote a pilot episode for a series that centers around Alessandro. As you know, making a series is a massive endeavor that can’t be undertaken by a single person. That’s why I started with something I could achieve on my own, a short film. The series (we hope) is the next step.

NL: Tell us about shifting roles from actor to director. Was there a significant transition for you? What are the challenges?

Directing had been at the back of my mind for some time. It came to the forefront a bit more in my last years in New York. I’d walk around the city shooting things on my DSLR and editing images together, writing voiceover text for it, creating these rudimentary stories. For a long time I told myself I couldn’t really be a director because I didn’t study for it, I lacked technical knowledge and raising money to make a film was also an issue. The reality of it is that my work as an actor has been my training as a director, just as much as my love for figurative art. People have different paths, it’s what informs a person’s work and makes it their own. Do I wish I knew more? Yes. Am I still learning? Thank the gods yes! But I am very grateful for the way things have unfolded.

NL: What are the challenges of telling such a complex story as a short with only 20 minutes of running time?

DD: Exactly that!! Time! On all fronts. Both while we were shooting and in the editing room. I had to take one moment of this story and strip it to the bone in order to have a storyline that made sense and could be engaging and meaningful. There is so much more to tell. Hopefully the short will leave you hungry for more.