In 2015 Annalisa Piras directed the first ever film on the EU crisis from an International point of view. This was produced by BBC and Arte among others. “The Great European Disaster Movie” has won the prestigious German CIVIS media prize in the information category. The film was selected among 930 applications by media programmes from all over Europe. The prize was bestowed by the German Federal President Joachim Gauck and the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz at a star studded event in the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin in the presence of EU broadcasters yesterday evening May 12th.
In 2011–12 she produced, co-wrote and directed the first independent feature documentary on Italy seen from abroad, Girlfriend in a Coma, co-written and narrated by Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist, inspired by his book Good Italy, Bad Italy (Yale University Press).
In 2013 Annalisa Piras founded the Wake Up Foundation, with the aim to raise public awareness about the current state and decline of the Western Societies through film and storytelling. Through the Foundation Annalisa Piras and Bill Emmott have launched the campaign Wake Up Europe! to foster political debate over the crises facing Europe.
She was the London Correspondent for L'Espresso 1997–2011 and for La7 TV for six years. In 2006-2007 Annalisa was the first Italian president of the London Foreign Press Association.
She is a regular member of the BBC Dateline London panel. She also provided analysis on European and Italian Current Affairs for The Guardian.
As a political and social commentator she frequently appears on BBC News, Sky News, CNN, Al Jazeera and CNBC.
Her BBC Radio 4 documentary The Italian Patient was shortlisted as the FPA Best Story of the Year by a UK-based foreign correspondent. Her TV documentary on the Hutton Enquiry, written and directed for La7 TV, was shortlisted for the same award in 2003.
As EU senior editor, she was part of the initial team which launched Euronews, the pan-European multilingual news television channel, on 1 January 1993 in Lyon, France.
In 2012 Annalisa Piras produced, co-wrote and directed the first independent feature documentary on Italy as seen from abroad, Girlfriend in a Coma, working with Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist, as co-author and narrator. The film was made by Springshot Productions.
The documentary is inspired by Emmott’s book Good Italy, Bad Italy (Yale University Press), as well as by Piras’s patriotic passion and insight about the country she left in the early 1990s. The film aims to introduce Italians and the World to the dark side of the country's political, economic and social decline, the product of a moral collapse in the West. It was broadcast on BBC Four, Sky Italia and La7 TV channels early in 2013, and subsequently on other channels worldwide as well as in public screenings.
The “Girlfriend in a Coma” title is a citation of a British musical hit by The Smiths from their album Strangeways (1987).
In 2014 Annalisa Piras wrote, directed and produced with Bill Emmott the documentary “The Great European Disaster Movie” on the crisis of the European Union. In an artfully constructed depiction of how Europe is sleepwalking toward disaster, starring Angus Deayton in fiction scenes from a postEU future, the film pairs an imagined view from a dystopian future with insightful, cross national analysis by ordinary Europeans and high level experts on how and why things are going so wrong. Notable interviewees include French economist Thomas Piketty, Martin Wolf, chief economic commentator at the Financial Times, former EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, and many former ministers and high level EU officials in various European countries.
In an authored piece of committed journalism, the filmmakers argue powerfully that, while economic crisis and popular anger are pushing Europe dangerously towards disintegration, the EU is in need of major reform but well worth saving. Subtle, moving, thoughtprovoking and witty, “The Great European Disaster Movie” is far more than a political film but instead frames Europe through the eyes of those who are most important to its success: the Europeans themselves.
The Great European Disaster Movie is a BBC/ARTE and 7 other European broadcasters coproduction, which has now been watched by 2.360.000 viewers, one million of which in France and Germany. The film premièred on BBC Four, as part of the Storyville strand, on 1 March 2015. It was subsequently broadcast in 12 countries (UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Japan) and has been translated in 10 languages, including Japanese.
“The Great European Disaster Movie” has won the prestigious German CIVIS media prize in the information category. The film has been selected among 930 applications by media programmes from all over Europe. The prize was bestowed by the German Federal President Joachim Gauck and the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz at a star studded event in the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin in the presence of EU broadcasters yesterday evening May 12th. Watch the video
The film generated a great deal of media controversy in the UK, with some critics taking exception at the BBC broadcasting an authored piece with an overtly pro-European slant and others accusing the authors of scaremongering. The BBC broadcast was followed by a live studio debate on Newsnight, the BBC’s news and current affairs programme, during which exec producer Bill Emmott faced several prominent eurosceptic critics.
The following day columnist Toby Young blogging in the Telegraph accused the film of misleading its audience. Director Annalisa Piras responded to the attacks in a piece for the Guardian and refuted the points more fully on the film’s website in a joint piece with Emmott.
Both Piras and Emmott became the subjects of vitriolic attacks on Twitter by people who argued the film was a piece of ‘EU propaganda’ despite its strong criticism of the EU institutions.
In the autumn of 2015 the controversy was reignited when an article appeared on the right wing Eurosceptic website ConservativeHome arguing that, as the film had been awarded an EU grant (under the Creative Europe programme) the BBC was ‘EU funded’. The allegation appeared in a string of publications. The BBC clarified that the grant was to develop international versions of the film and that no EU money was used in the BBC version.
In his review for The Independent We could find ourselves back into the Europe of our nightmares., John Popham called film is a “wake-up call for all those for whom departure from the union could not come a moment too soon and would be the one-stop solution to all our ills, from immigration to health-and-safety nannying”. The film also received positive coverage in Italy where it was reviewed by Il Sole 24, Il Fatto Quotidiano and La Repubblica and France. In his review for La Stampa, Brussels Correspondent Marco Zatterin argued that the film unleashed such a “violent” reaction among British eurosceptics because it “invaded their territory by criticising Europe but with a view to rebuild it.”