La nostra terra: anti-Mafia action by way of zucchinis and tomatoes
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Giulio Manfredonia’s movie, with Stefano Accorsi and Sergio Rubini, enters the everyday life of a cooperative that farms organic products on land confiscated from the Mafia
Giulio Manfredonia returns to talk about cooperatives, following Si può fare [+see also:
film profile], in his new movie La nostra terra [+see also:
film profile] (lit. Our land). While his brilliant 2008 comedy with Claudio Bisio recounted the adventures of a cooperative of farmers all former mental institution patients, the Roman director’s sixth feature film (fresh from his work on bent politicians in Whatsoeverly [+see also:
film profile] and Tutto tutto niente niente [+see also:
film profile]) portrays a makeshift cooperative of farmers at work on land confiscated from the Mafia.
Filippo (Stefano Accorsi) has been dealing with anti-Mafia activities for years, but has done so from his office chair in the North. When he’s asked to help a cooperative from Puglia, given a small farm that was confiscated from a ruthless Mafia boss, but which can’t manage to get going on account of ongoing boycotts, Filippo reluctantly has to get stuck in. Fearful, anxious and hopelessly bureaucratic, he won’t have an easy time in this small southern village governed by its own dynamics, and he’ll be tempted more than once to chuck it all in. He’ll hang on thanks to the courage and passion of the members of this cooperative, lead by the Mafia boss’ former farmer Cosimo (Sergio Rubini) and by the beautiful and determined Rossana (Maria Rosaria Russo), both with a past to redeem. However, along with their first organic tomatoes, an unwelcome visitor will reappear; Nicola Sansone (Tommaso Ragno), the Mafioso and former owner of the farm who was sentenced to house arrest and who, from his villa above, will watch closely and interfere in every way in the struggle for legality by this group of volunteers.
Based on the work of the Libera association, for years committed to the fight against the Mafia through the ‘moral’ re-use of assets confiscated from organised crime, Manfredonia’s film tackles the issue with a smile and falls in with the thread of Pif’s La mafia uccide solo d’estate [+see also:
interview: Pierfrancesco Diliberto
film profile]. “The movie tells a true story, without neglecting the lighter side of such tiresome human affairs”, explains the director. “I wanted to tell the story of this strange fight against the Mafia that involves growing zucchinis and tomatoes: it’s positive anti-Mafia action that’s not repressive, rather, it proposes an alternative model”.
The unpredictable construction of characters and the rejection of a clear separation between good and evil are remarkable: “Nowadays the South is described as either extremely violent or full of good people who are a bit stupid”, observes Sergio Rubini, “my Cosimo is in grey and ambivalent territory, and this makes him more real”. Stefano Accorsi is amusing as the trembling civil servant who’s addicted to sedatives but who constantly tries to go beyond his limits: “For Filippo, obstacles become opportunities”, says the actor, who adds: “the land gives you a lot, but it also demands a lot from your body and soul”.
Produced by Lumière & Co. with Rai Cinema, La nostra terra will be released in cinemas on 18 September distributed in 80 copies by Visionaria and Videa. The official release will be preceded, on 15 September, by a special event at the Anteo cinema in Milan, where the movie screening will follow a live interview with Don Luigi Ciotti, founder of Libera, by satellite connection with 40 Italian cities.
(Translated from Italian)