USA 2021, 91 mins
Director: Enrico Casarosa

Disney and Pixar’s original feature film Luca is a fun and heartwarming story about friendship, stepping out of your comfort zone and two teenage sea monsters who experience a life-changing summer. ‘This movie is about the friendships that change us,’ says director Enrico Casarosa. ‘It’s a love letter to the summers of our youth – those formative years when you’re finding yourself.’

Adds producer Andrea Warren, ‘It’s a magical coming-of-age-story about remembering the people who shaped us along the way.’

Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Luca is a story about one boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, Alberto, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply held secret: they are both sea monsters from another world just below the water’s surface.

‘Luca is a shy, polite, introverted, rule-following kid who has a secret desire to see the world and learn all he can,’ says screenwriter Jesse Andrews. ‘But he’s been told his whole life that sea monsters should never go above the surface of the water where all the interesting stuff seems to be happening.’

So it’s no surprise that Luca harbours a secret fascination with all things human. His curiosity is especially sparked when he discovers items that have floated down from the surface. ‘Luca knows nothing of the surface,’ says screenwriter Mike Jones. ‘So these items are glimpses of another world – as if it were an object of an extraterrestrial landing on Earth. He’s a young imaginative kid, so when he meets Alberto – who has actual knowledge of these objects – it’s incredibly intriguing to Luca.’

Indeed, Alberto, a fellow sea monster, has ventured beyond the surface, making him the subject of intense respect as far as Luca is concerned – at least once he gets over the shock of it all. Because, it turns out, sea monsters have the ability to blend in with humans. ‘Alberto literally drags Luca out of the water, and we discover that these sea monsters have the magical ability to transform into human form when they’re dry,’ says Casarosa. ‘Our inspiration was sea life like octopuses that are able to camouflage and change the way they look.’

The result? Carte blanche to roam the land where humans dwell. And while Luca quite enjoys this freedom, he realises that the danger his family has warned him about is not entirely unfounded. ‘There’s a big misunderstanding between humans and sea monsters,’ says Jacob Tremblay, who lends his voice to Luca. ‘They all fear each other. Sea monsters strictly avoid the surface, and humans are eager to hunt down sea monsters and prove they exist.’

Luca and Alberto embrace their new surroundings with one caveat top of mind: stay dry. ‘If they get rained on or splashed, their secret could be revealed,’ says Jones.

Their sense of adventure – risks aside – is symbolised in large part by an image of a Vespa scooter that hangs in Alberto’s hideout. ‘It represents escape, freedom, friendship and the promise of exploring the amazing world around them,’ says Andrews.

The story, set in the late 1950s-early 1960s, captures the magic and adventure of summertime. The Italian seaside setting was created in a stunning painterly style Casarosa championed, and stems from his childhood. ‘I had the luck to grow up in Genoa – a port city on the Italian Riviera,’ he says. ‘It’s a very specific coast because it’s really steep – the mountains rise up from the ocean. The towns are stuck in time – they’re so picturesque. I always imagined them like little monsters coming out of the water.’

Hence sea monsters – though, to be fair, the underwater creatures in Luca are not exactly scary – slimy, creepy creatures aren’t the director’s storytelling sensibility. ‘Sea monsters are a metaphor, really, for feeling different or excluded,’ says Casarosa. ‘I love the sense that all of our characters in some way feel different or unusual. Luca and Alberto so passionately want to be part of this other world – but they fear they won’t be accepted as they are. And yet, they love being sea monsters.’

Adds Warren, ‘There’s a lovely theme about wanting to be a part of something outside of our immediate families – wanting to experience cultures beyond our own. Luca discovers the power of exploring and celebrating another culture, while learning to honour and share his own.’

Inspired by the creatures from old maps dating back to the Renaissance, as well as scientific illustrations of fish from the region and Japanese dragons and serpents, artists created sea monsters that were believable, appealing and, importantly, expressive – because the story revolves around a burgeoning friendship between Luca and Alberto. ‘Their friendship brings out the best in Luca and gives him the confidence to spread his wings and take more risks,’ says executive producer Kiri Hart. ‘It’s an absolutely lovely, heartwarming story about friendship and how our friends can unlock certain parts of us, giving us the opportunity to discover something about ourselves.’
Production notes

Directed by: Enrico Casarosa
©: Disney Enterprises Inc., Pixar
A Pixar Animation Studios film
Presented by: Disney
Executive Producers: Pete Docter, Peter Sohn, Kiri Hart
Produced by: Andrea Warren
Associate Producer: William Reusch
Casting by: Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
Screenplay by: Jesse Andrews, Mike Jones
Story by: Enrico Casarosa, Jesse Andrews, Simon Stephenson
Story Supervisors: John Hoffman, Max Brace
Directors of Photography: David Juan Bianchi, Kim White
Visual Effects Supervisor: David Ryu
Animation Supervisor: Michael Venturini
Directing Animators: Claudio de Oliveira, Nickolas Rosario, Nate Wall
Film Editors: Catherine Apple, Jason Hudak
Production Designer: Daniela Strijleva
Character Designers: Maria Yi, Daniel Holland, Jason Deamer
Set Designers: Kristian Norelius, Nathaniel McLaughlin, Garrett Taylor, Noah Klocek, Philip Metschan
Music by: Dan Romer
Original Dialogue Mixers: Vince Caro, Adrian Maruri, Matt Smalley, Carlo Ricotta
Production Sound Editor: Samuel Lehmer

Voice Cast
Jacob Tremblay (Luca Paguro)
Jack Dylan Grazer (Alberto Scorfano)
Emma Berman (Giulia Marcovaldo)
Saverio Raimondo (Ercole Visconti)
Maya Rudolph (Daniela Paguro)
Marco Barricelli (Massimo Marcovaldo)
Jim Gaffigan (Lorenzo Paguro)
Peter Sohn (Ciccio)
Lorenzo Crisci (Guido)
Marina Massironi (Signora Marsigliese)
Gino La Monica (Tommaso, old fisherman)
Sandy Martin (Grandma Paguro)
Giacomo Gianniotti (Giacomo, young fisherman)
Elisa Gabrielli (Concetta Aragosta)
Mimi Maynard (Pinuccia Aragosta)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Uncle Ugo)
Francesca Fanti (Maggiore, cop)
Jonathan Nichols (priest)
Enrico Casarosa (card player/angry fisherman)
Jim Pirri (Mr Branzino)

USA 2021©
91 mins

Director: McKenna Harris
USA 2021
8 mins

Wed 2 Aug 14:20; Mon 14 Aug 20:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:15
Turning Red
Wed 2 Aug 20:20; Tue 8 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 15:30
The Jungle Book
Thu 3 Aug 14:20; Sun 6 Aug 13:00; Wed 16 Aug 20:45; Wed 30 Aug 14:20
Thu 3 Aug 18:00; Sat 19 Aug 17:30
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Fri 4 Aug 18:00; Sun 13 Aug 18:10; Tue 22 Aug 14:20; Wed 23 Aug 20:20
101 Dalmatians
Sat 5 Aug 13:20; Thu 10 Aug 14:20; Sat 19 Aug 15:30; Tue 29 Aug 14:20
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Sat 5 Aug 15:40; Thu 17 Aug 14:20; Sun 27 Aug 18:20
Sister Act
Sat 5 Aug 20:40; Fri 18 Aug 18:20
Zootropolis (aka Zootopia)
Sun 6 Aug 13:10; Fri 25 Aug 18:00
Silent Cinema: Disney’s Silent Shorts + intro
Sun 6 Aug 15:30
Freaky Friday
Sun 6 Aug 18:20; Fri 18 Aug 20:30; Thu 24 Aug 20:50
The Parent Trap
Mon 7 Aug 18:00; Sun 20 Aug 15:10
Wed 9 Aug 14:20; Sat 12 Aug 11:30 (+ extended intro); Mon 14 Aug 14:20; Sun 20 Aug 19:00
Mary Poppins
Wed 9 Aug 17:50; Mon 21 Aug 14:20; Mon 28 Aug 13:00
Wed 9 Aug 20:30; Mon 28 Aug 12:30
The Love Bug
Fri 11 Aug 20:30; Sat 12 Aug 11:50; Sun 20 Aug 13:30
A Disney Day for Young Audiences
Sat 12 Aug 11:30-16:30
Sat 12 Aug 18:00; Sat 26 Aug 12:00
Sat 12 Aug 20:30; Sat 19 Aug 13:00; Thu 24 Aug 14:20
The Lion King
Sun 13 Aug 13:00 (+ Funday Sing-along); Sat 26 Aug 20:30; Thu 31 Aug 14:20
The Fiendishly Difficult Disney Quiz
Sun 13 Aug 15:30 Blue Room
Sun 13 Aug 15:50; Wed 16 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 12:20; Mon 28 Aug 16:20
Finding Nemo
Sun 13 Aug 18:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:30
The Rescuers
Mon 14 Aug 18:30; Sat 19 Aug 15:50
Sat 19 Aug 12:00; Tue 29 Aug 20:30
Dick Tracy
Fri 25 Aug 20:40; Tue 29 Aug 18:10 (+ intro by Ben Roberts, BFI CEO)
The Little Mermaid
Sun 27 Aug 16:00; Mon 28 Aug 16:40

With thanks to The Walt Disney Company

Never miss an issue with Sight and Sound, the BFI’s internationally renowned film magazine. Subscribe from just £25*
*Price based on a 6-month print subscription (UK only). More info:

Welcome to the home of great film and TV, with three cinemas and a studio, a world-class library, regular exhibitions and a pioneering Mediatheque with 1000s of free titles for you to explore. Browse special-edition merchandise in the BFI Shop.We're also pleased to offer you a unique new space, the BFI Riverfront – with unrivalled riverside views of Waterloo Bridge and beyond, a delicious seasonal menu, plus a stylish balcony bar for cocktails or special events. Come and enjoy a pre-cinema dinner or a drink on the balcony as the sun goes down.

Enjoy a great package of film benefits including priority booking at BFI Southbank and BFI Festivals. Join today at

We are always open online on BFI Player where you can watch the best new, cult & classic cinema on demand. Showcasing hand-picked landmark British and independent titles, films are available to watch in three distinct ways: Subscription, Rentals & Free to view.

See something different today on

Join the BFI mailing list for regular programme updates. Not yet registered? Create a new account at

Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email