Ambassador Raffaello Degruttola (‘Raff’) is an English-Italian actor and director from London. After playing Private Goldman in Steven Spielberg‘s Saving Private Ryan, Raff worked as a character actor in American films shot in Europe. His notable acting credits include supporting roles in Rush, In Love and War, Wit, Quantum of Solace and Unlocked, while notable directors he’s worked with include Richard Attenborough and Mike Nichols. In 2019 he appeared with Rebel Wilson in The Hustle.
Raff’s parents moved from Ariano Irpino, Italy, to London in 1970. When Raff was eight, the family moved to Queens, New York for several years, before returning to London. After attending some local acting classes, Raff was encouraged to audition for a place at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. This he successfully did and attended from the ages of 13-16, before continuing his acting training at the Lee Strasberg Institute. In 2003 Raff married Simone Lahbib, also a Mental Ideas Ambassador. Their daughter, Skye, was born in 2005. Both are actresses.
In 2010 Raff wrote and directed his first 30-min short, The Other Side Of My Sleep. The film headlined the Boston Film Festival and inspired by its success, Raff immediately began shooting his first feature film, FLIM The Movie, a comedy constructed around improvisation. As well as directing, Raff played the lead, Ravi, a delusional filmmaker hoping to make the transition from Bollywood to Hollywood. FLIM premiered at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival and was nominated for the Raindance Award at 2014 Moet British Independent Film Awards. In 2015 the film made the official selection at the New York Independent Film Festival.
In 2017, Raff directed and played a sex trafficker in No Way Home – Stop The Traffick, a powerful short film made to raise awareness of the victims of human trafficking. The film won the award for Expose from the United Nations in conjunction with CNN and World Freedom Day.
He is currently working with Mental Ideas on a series of short films depicting mental health conditions in an art-house style, blending contemporary dance and poetry with an acting narrative. The first of these short films, Transference: A Bipolar Love Story, is now being co-produced by Contro Vento Films and Mental Ideas as a feature-length film.
Raff’s been affected by mental illness throughout his life. Raff’s father had bipolar disorder and he is drawn to playing sympathetic delusional characters with a manic edge. Raff’s films are certain to be highlights of our inaugural HKIMHFF film festival and Mental Ideas is thrilled to have him on board as an ambassador and contributor to our Mental Ideas Podcast.