L’equilibrio (The balance, Giornate degli Autori- official selection) by Vincenzo Marra, a dramatic film of social but also spiritual denunciation, was originally meant to be a documentary on street priests. It will be released in cinemas by Warner on September 21. “I started meticulously exploring the periphery of my hometown, meter by meter. The choice fell on the portion of territory in Campania called “Terra dei Fuochi” (Land of fire) and on the priests that live and work there. The reality was far worse than one could imagine, I found it impossible to make my documentary because of the environmental conditions, I was involved in situations that were impossible to film on camera, it was dangerous”. 

So, L’equilibrio was made with the material filmed. The main character, Giuseppe/Mimmo Borrelli was a missionary in Africa who moves from a parish in Rome to a small Neapolitan town. He takes the place of don Antonio/Roberto Del Gaudio, a charismatic vicar, loved and respected by the people because he fights the trafficking of toxic waste buried in the land. Once he takes up office, don Giuseppe will clash with the harsh reality of the neighborhood. In order to save a mother and her abused daughter he is ready to suffer the consequences with no fear. Two different ways of intending priesthood come face to face in ‘la terra dei fuochi’. “Don Giuseppe and don Antonio are in a way similar to our two latest Popes. The first is a man unable to turn the other way, he is fearless, led by the faith and the principles he has always believed in –Marra explains – He is familiar with doubt and temptation, but he does not falter in order to help the his fellow men. However don Giusepp’s attitude mustn’t be interpreted as an attempt to change the world, there is no ideological stance at stake”. 

Don Antonio, who is also engaged in denouncing the illegal landfills and the trafficking of toxic waist, “is a priest who gives precedence to faith, who cares for the community who attends the church, and is forced to make some compromises with his conscience and with his reality. But his behavior is not  reprehensible, since he has taken on the role and the duties of absent institutions in the area.” By portraying this spiritual clash, the film poses the question of what is the right choice in an abandoned land. Most of all, the director points out, don Giuseppe is not afraid, and he is ready to beare the consequences of his actions. “Today our lives are blocked by fear: fear of the future, fear of conventional judgment, fear of expressing dissent, fear of denouncing situations that are bigger than we are, not knowing who will help us.”

The film is interpreted by a professional and non-professional cast who spent two/three months before filming, ignoring the script, in a ‘gym’ where they experience conditions similar to the ones lived by their characters. “I don’t want the actors to read the detailed script and loose their authenticity and individuality before they carry out these exercises.”

What about the title? “It’s provocative, it’s a reference to the State-mafia negotiation, because I would like to know what the price our country is paying, that we are all paying, since this happened.” L’equilibrio uses only long-shots, it offers no solutions or certainties, but opens up to doubt and discussion. The film is “also a spiritual journey, an intimate path confronting life and death”; with it, Marra makes no mystery of whom he feels close to.