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Re-Imagining Neo-Realism at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema ‘21


By Roger Costa


Remarkably assembled as a dark dramatic comedy with a great sense of visual and sound, filmmaker brothers Damiano & Fabio D’Innocenzo’s sophomore project is an ambitious and accomplished look at childhood, puberty and adolescence. As a group of children from the same neighborhood flirts with serious issues such as first love, sexuality, maturity and competition, their parents traverse marital and economic crisis, linking their lives and dilemmas, and creating a suspenseful, ticking-bomb atmosphere. Impressively shot, filled with sharp dialogue and mind provoking, the film paints a relevant and irresistible portrait of modern families, their conflicts and uneasiness between parents and children. Winner of the Best Screenplay Award at Berlin, it is a unique look at growing up amidst several crisis.


Demonstrating the same intensity and accuracy found in masters Rossellini and DeSica’s lower-working-class sagas, filmmakers Gianluca & Massimiliano De Serio’s dramatic feature follows the struggle for survival of an unemployed and marginalized widower and his child. Incredibly heartbreaking and efficient, it addresses the negligence given to those in poverty condition, analyzing both physical and emotional distress caused by greed and exploitation. Desperate and unable to provide for his son after the death of his wife, Giuseppe accepts a tough job managed by fascists who underpay and humiliate them. He promises his son he will bring his mother back, and the kid fantasizes about the impossible. They live in horrible conditions sharing the area with several groups of refugees, exposed to danger, disease and violence. Facing obstacles from various sides, their father-son bond strengthens into something much more than just co-dependence and comradeship, but also into the meaning of living and the power of hanging on to hope. A beautiful and precise account on parenthood, family resilience and human values, as well as a gripping portrait of cruelty, injustice and economic mud. But above all, it’s the message of hoping to see a loved again after a tragedy, that gives its victorious, triumphant tone.


(Co-presented by Film At Lincoln Center and Istituto Luce Cinecittà, “Open Roads: New Italian Cinema ’21” runs Virtually nationwide May 28-June 6. Go to for tickets and details.)

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