D'Innocenzo Bros: "Tenderness will save us"
The international title - Boys Cry - is possibly more effective than the Italian one - La terra dell'abbastanza (lit. The land of enough) - and better conveys the philosophy of brothers Damiano and Fabio D'Innocenzo, that is: even in the hardest of men one can and should find something tender and romantic. Defining it a life philosophy is not an overstatement, because the 28-year-old Rome-based first-time directors have clear ideas on what they call "deconstructing machismo" and a solid vision on their story. By the way, they partly come from those suburbs where sensitivity is easily mistaken for weakness. They show it in this story of friendship and death, of defeat foretold - the story of Mirko and Manolo, two youngsters who are still attending school and find themselves trapped in a crime story that is greater than them. There's no need to bring up Pasolini or Caligari (although we can find similarities with this latter) to explain their first film, presented in the Panorama section of the Berlinale. A film written and directed by self-taught filmmakers: no academic or film school background, but a lot of omnivorous passion for cinema ranging from Lynch to Gus van Sant and Castellitto. And a pinch of luck, too. For instance, they met Matteo Garrone by chance thanks to a hug along the street. He invited them to his place, taught them many things, and "lent" them some of his collaborators, such as costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini. Similarly, they met producer Agostino Saccà at the theatre (his company Pepito produced the film with Rai Cinema, MiBACT and Regione Lazio): they asked him to read their script and he did so. Now Damiano and Fabio are in Berlin, where another nice encounter took place, that with Jonas Carpignano, who is also member of the First Film Award jury. The filmmakers are living the festival with great simplicity, together with actors Andrea Carpenzano, Matteo Olivetti, and Milena Mancini, this latter starring in the role of Manolo's mother, a penniless and divorced woman with a young daughter to raise. The cast also include Luca Zingaretti, in the role of a criminal, and the excellent Max Tortora, an irresponsible father who push his son towards crime just because it looks like the easiest way to make money. The story begins when Mirko and Manolo kills a man in a car accident. They don't even stop to help him and what at first seems just a trifle, eventually turns into an unexpected stroke of luck.
A criminal education showing us how simple it is to fall in the trap for two boys without points of reference and living in the suburbs of Rome in disarray. Boys Cry tells "how it's damn easy to get used to wickedness in a world in which suffering means being weak. So the two boys go beyond the limits of patience, pretend not to feel anything, no guilty feeling at all, and for a while they believe in this."
Shot in Ponte di Nona, a "new but already decadent" neighbourhood not far from where the D'Innocenzo brothers used to live until not long ago, the film also shows a fresh and colourful side of the suburbs, "between Pasolini and Tim Burton" as they say. The two protagonists are tender, easygoing, fun, and it's impossible not to grow fond of them despite everything. That's thanks to the two actors, the 22-year-old Andrea Carpenzano, discovered in Francesco Bruni's Friends by Chance, and 28-year-old Matteo Olivetti, blue eyes and curly hair à la Citti: "With Andrea we worked on the archetypes, while with Matteo we had a more physical approach," the directors states.
Strong supporters of the Rome football team, the directors gave their characters the same love for soccer. However, more than in that, it's in culture that they see the antibodies against the decay : "If we hadn't been surrounded by culture in our family, where reading was so important, we too would have lost our way." Moreover, they add: "That's true in the suburbs as well as in the city centres: against aggressiveness and violence, we need poetry and tenderness." For the future, two new projects, a dark tale and a western. Romantic, of course. We can bet on it.
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An Italian-French-Dutch-Mexican coproduction, Land, written and directed by Babak Jalali will celebrate its world premiere in the Panorama section of the 68th Berlin Film Festival.
Matilda De Angelis is the young Shooting Star representing Italy among the emerging talents of this year's Berlin Film Festival. After her astonishing debut performance in Matteo Rovere's Italian Race, she starred in Sebastiano Riso's A Family, and we'll see her again soon in Bernardo Carboni's Youtopia and Marco Ponti's Una vita spericolata (lit. A fearless life).