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Fighting homophobia with Un bacio


- Teenage awkwardness, family and friendship are the themes around which Ivan Cotroneo’s new film, which is due to be released in Italian cinemas on 31 March with Lucky Red, revolves

Fighting homophobia with Un bacio
Valentina Romani, Leonardo Pazzagli and Rimau Grillo Ritzberger in Un bacio

Teenage awkwardness, family, and friendship. These are the themes around which Ivan Cotroneo’s new film, Un bacio [+see also:
film profile
, which is due to be released in Italian cinemas on 31 March with Lucky Red, revolves. Cotroneo, who has worked as a writer and screenwriter for Daniele Luchetti, Ferzan Özpetek, Luca Guadagnino and Maria Sole Tognazzi in the past, is the author of successful TV and web series on extended and cheerfully conflicted families, namely Una mamma imperfetta, which he also directed. His debut film, La kryptonite nella borsa [+see also:
film review
making of
film focus
interview: Ivan Cotroneo
film profile
(which competed at the Rome Film Festival in 2011) was another “film about diversity, a coming-of-age tale”, as he himself described it.

Based on the book of the same name, La kryptonite nella borsa centred around an awkward nine-year-old boy in 1970s Naples. With Un bacio, Cotroneo moves us to the present-day north-east (Udine to be precise) with a trio of teenagers à la Jules et Jim by Truffaut (to which explicit reference is made), who are high school classmates. The film leans towards being a “surviving high school movie” with musical numbers and a laid-back approach, the calling cards of this author, which bring levity to the issues of homophobia and bullying at least up until the film’s dramatic development.

The first member of the trio of 16-year-old protagonists is Lorenzo, played by Viennese newcomer Rimau Grillo Ritzberger, who is handsome in the same way as a very young Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho by Gus Van Sant, but without the same wretchedness about him. Lorenzo is new in town, having been adopted by a progressive couple (Thomas Trabacchi e Susy Laude) after a failed previous adoption. He’s gay, exuberant, a star student, and takes refuge in a world of coloured butterflies when the real world gets too much. Antonio (Leonardo Pazzagli), who is instead considered stupid by everyone, is the taciturn playmaker of the school’s basketball team, and engages in constant dialogue with his brother, who died in a motorcycle accident and who he’s put on a pedestal. Finally Blu (“like the colour blue? No, like how my parents were blue in the face by the time I was born”), played by Valentina Romani, is the female element of the group, the transgressive daughter of a well-to-do family with a mother who aspires to be a writer. The clan becomes stronger when all three are faced with the violent prejudices of their peers at school and outside it.

The film hits cinemas accompanied by the video for the single Hurts by Mika, which was also directed by Cotroneo in the film’s locations, and features the three young protagonists alongside the British singer. The video has become a symbol for the fight against bullying, which is also the underlying aim of the film to some extent, firmly aimed at youths of that age (and perhaps even at young parents), with a highly contemporary influencing power: a lot of music (as well as Mika, the film features tracks by Lady Gaga, Emeli Sandé and Lamb) and quotes from series such as Glee. The film is produced by Indigo Film (Youth [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
film profile
) with Titanus and RAI Cinema, with the support of the Lazio Region and the Media Programme. International sales are being handled by True Colours.

(Translated from Italian)

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