TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


The Annwyn's Secret

Manuela Piemonte



Ireland, in the future. Climate change is consuming planet Earth and driving people insane. As worldwide protests rage against governments, 30-year-old Chrysa longs for a normal life. She works as a nurse in a clinic that helps some of the thousands of people who can no longer sleep without nightmares. Since the death of her parents, she lives with her younger brother Joshua on a boat beached on grassland. Chrysa has a secret she has kept since birth: she can hear people’s thoughts, get inside their dreams and interact with them. This is a power she has rejected as a curse, preventing her from having close and intimate relationships. Even with Joshua, who knows nothing of her special powers.

One day Joshua suffers serious head injuries during riots protesting the inaction of the European governments. He ends up in a coma: Chrysa decides to go inside his mind to try to bring him back. While violent storms force people to desperate measures in the real world, in the dream world something else is at stake: in order to save her brother, Chrysa has to face her own demons. Joshua’s dream world quickly turns to nightmares, nightmares which are so real they could literally kill her…


The Annwyn’s Secret is a fantasy/dystopian novel with an environmentalist message.

It is set in three countries, with a story spanning two hundred years. Its adaptation has been quite a challenge. The main plot line in the book has a structure very different from the typical three acts of a script, and it could not work on screen as well as it does in the book. So I decided to keep the characters and parts of the world that I liked, and aimed at simplifying the story to its core elements: the difficult relationship between two siblings and the struggle of the main character to accept her true identity.

In the book there is one long, first scene with Chrysa falling asleep and travelling in the dream dimension, running at night under the rain along a dark street and ending up in a forest. I really like this beginning, so I decided to exploit this side of the character and to use it as the main plot. I focused the story as a heroine’s journey taking place between two dimensions: the real world and the dream world. What if we had her powers? Would it make our lives better or worse? Chrysa could have anything in the world if she wanted to, but she is not interested.

Her dreams are simple: she dreams about a picnic with friends on a Sunday morning, she dreams about waking up in a real house of her own, not a boat, she dreams about silence and peace of mind, and most of all she dreams of a loving relationship with the only family she has, her brother.

As the Annwyn’s myth on which the book is based is an Irish myth, I decided to set the story in Ireland, but due to the universality of its theme I could easily picture the same characters living near a lake, just as in the book, in a country where myths about nature and its magic are as old and strong.

We all struggle between our dreams and our reality, just like Chrysa. Siblings all over the world confront the complexity of their relationships throughout their lives. We do not choose siblings and it can take a lifetime to understand each other, just like Joshua and Chrysa.

I believe this story would make a touching, delicate movie about appreciating the details of everyday life and about facing reality instead of chasing rainbows.


Sometimes the most terrible nightmares happen while chasing the sweetest dream.
Manuela Piemonte


production notes

written by
Manuela Piemonte