Zeta: “A rap version of The Party”
by Vittoria Scarpa
- This is how Cosimo Alemà defines his new film, a vibrant portrayal of the lively Italian hip-hop scene, a mix between a coming-of-age story and a love story. In Italian cinemas today with Koch Media
Rap has been undergoing a surprising boom in recent years, and has established itself as the most well-loved musical genre of young people. Rhymes and freestyle dominate the charts, television programmes, song festivals, and rappers have myriad fans online, for their music as well as their generally daring behaviour. A film about it all was just waiting to be made. Cue Cosimo Alemà, who has been involved in the music industry for over twenty years, having directed hundred of music videos. Following on from his horror film (War Games [+see also:
film profile]) and a western/noir (La santa [+see also:
film profile]), for this third feature film the director brought the camera onto his stomping ground, using nightclubs, stages and recording studios as his locations. The result is Zeta [+see also:
film profile], a vibrant portrayal of the lively Italian hip-hop scene, a mix between a coming-of-age story and a love story, in which fictional rappers and real-life rappers share the screen and challenge one another, striking with the beat.
Lovers of the genre are in for a treat, as the film features Fedez, J-Ax, Salmo, Clementino, Ensi, Baby K, Rocco Hunt and many more, all the protagonists of the Italian rap scene are there to mix up beats with Salvatore Esposito (the star of Gomorrah – The TV Series, here in the role of a fearsome and godlike hip-hop singer), Diego Germini (a rapper in real-life, who goes by the stage name Izi), Jacopo Olmo Antinori (Me and You [+see also:
film profile], The Dinner [+see also:
interview: Ivano De Matteo
film profile]) and, in her acting debut, Irene Vetere. It is around these three that the story revolves: Alex, Marco and Gaia dream of making it big in the world of rap, but only Alex is presented with an opportunity to. Going by the name of Zeta, he achieves fleeting success, succumbing to drugs, falling in with the wrong crowd and wandering towards pop. It’s like a rap version of “The Party”, is how Alemà loves to describe the film, which he wanted to use to tell a story about love, including for music: “when I look at rap artists I see the same visceral and urgent passion that others had thirty years ago for other musical genres”, he says.
Although the story isn’t exactly original (it’s impossible not to think of 8 Mile and the many other stories about the rise/fall/redemption of stars we’ve already seen), the essential virtue of the film is its realism, its “hot” soundtrack (the disc, most of the tracks on which are new, will be released at the same time as the film), a protagonist (Germini) with amazing presence on-screen, and the way it frames an important phenomenon in an unpicturesque Rome. If it’s true that so many young people identify with these new urban idols, “chosen as vehicles through which to express their discomfort and powerlessness”, Zeta is most definitely the Italian film of today’s generation we’ve been waiting for.
(Translated from Italian)