A Fiore blooms in the cells of a young offenders’ institution
by Camillo De Marco
- CANNES 2016: The fourth feature film by Claudio Giovannesi is the moving story of two teenage ‘criminals’ who fall in love whilst behind bars
A father just out of prison, a daughter who’s just been incarcerated. Everything hinges on this strong but temperamental family relationship in Claudio Giovannesi’s fourth feature film, Fiore [+see also:
Q&A: Claudio Giovannesi
film profile], which was selected for Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, as was Sweet Dreams [+see also:
Q&A: Marco Bellocchio
film profile] by Marco Bellocchio.
The very first few minutes of the film introduce us to the protagonist, Daphne (Daphne Scoccia), and what she spends most of her time doing: pointing a knife at people’s throats and stealing their smartphones in Rome’s quieter metro stations. When she is arrested by the police, Daphne ends up in a mixed young offenders’ institution, in which the girls’ section is separate from but adjacent to the boys’ section. Although no contact is allowed between them, they slyly talk to one another through the bars of the windows looking out onto the courtyard or at the only event they both attend, Sunday Mass. It is in this way that Daphne becomes acquainted with a male inmate, a boy from Milan called Josh (Josciua Algeri). The two soon form a solid friendship through the letters they manage to exchange in secret (using the trolleys in the canteen).
The point of view chosen by the director is that of the protagonist and is maintained right up until the end. It’s a moving gaze, like that of a caged animal. Daphne is a rebel, and can’t stand being locked up in her cell. She clashes with the other young detainees, even though an emotional transformation is already underway. Her father (Valerio Mastandrea) delays coming to visit her (he himself has just finished serving a prison sentence) and when he finally shows up, he’s accompanied by his new companion (Laura Vasiliu).
Fiore is definitely a love story with obstacles, like all love stories. Here we have a dual love: that of a teenager for her father (Daphne has his name tattooed on her arm), a man with a criminal past who is like a fish out of water in the free world and neglects his daughter, above all because he has to put his own life back together, and the blossoming love between two young people. Born in prison, the love story develops on the outside, on the run.
Giovannesi is a graduate of the Italian National Film School (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia) in Rome, and started his career as a documentary maker. This is reflected in his approach to fictional feature film. His aim in Alì Blue Eyes [+see also:
interview: Claudio Giovannesi
film profile], for example, was to portray an aspect of Italian society, life in the suburbs. Without casting judgment but simply showing us. To make Fiore, the director and his co-screenwriters Filippo Gravino and Antonella Lattanzi visited the young offenders’ institution in Rome for six months, where they discovered that prison is often something that is ‘inherited’: most of the young people detained there have parents who have, in turn, been in prison. In Fiore the director shows all the innocence that can be hidden deep inside these teenage ‘criminals’, who society has decided to keep under lock and key. The choice to use two amateur actors (she’s a waitress in real life, he did an acting course at the young offenders’ institution in Milan) only shortens the distance between fiction and reality, along with the masterful photography by Daniele Ciprì.
Every Italian film has its own song. In this case it’s Maledetta primavera, sung in the institution by a star from Italian TV programme ‘Amici’, a suggestion made to the director by fellow filmmaker Alice Rorhwacher. Fiore, which is being sold abroad by Rai Com, will be released on 25 May in Rome and Milan and will be released in cinemas all over Italy starting from 1 June with BIM.
(Translated from Italian)