I Was a Dreamer gets real on the outskirts of Rome
by Camillo De Marco
- VENICE 2016: "Suburban working-class" Mirko Frezza plays someone strikingly similar to himself in the feature debut by Michele Vannucci
When an auteur comes across a story or a character, they don’t let it get away; they nurture it, pamper it, develop it and take possession of it. But often, it’s the story or the character that takes possession of a director or a screenwriter. Michele Vannucci, who has made his feature debut with I Was a Dreamer [+see also:
film profile], in competition in the Orizzonti section of the Venice Film Festival, stumbled across Mirko Frezza in 2012, while he was holding casting sessions for his short film with which he would graduate in directing at Rome’s Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. And he realised that something important had become part of his life. This 40-year-old man, with his awe-inspiring physique, long hair, hipster beard, tribal tattoos and piercing eyes, had a story to tell – his own.
After a difficult past on the outskirts of Rome, a wife, three children, a mother and a father to be wary of, he was elected president of the local neighbourhood and opened a community centre. After six short fiction films, five documentaries and a medium-length film, in 2015 Vannucci made the short Una storia normale, which served as the inspiration for this first feature-length effort, I Was a Dreamer, produced by Giovanni Pompili for Kino, in conjunction with Laser Film, Upupa and with the support of the Roma Lazio Film Commission and a contribution from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.
Frezza therefore plays someone strikingly similar to himself: a man who got out of prison just a few years ago, who comes back to his working-class suburb and attempts to rebuild his life – on the straight and narrow if possible. But this is not easy when your father (Vittorio Viviani) is a criminal and when temptation is always just around the corner. Sticking by him is his loving wife (Milena Mancini), while his older daughter, Michelle (Ginevra De Carolis), accuses himof having abandoned her and having come back just to get caught up in more trouble. But Mirko is larger than life; he never tires of talking and moving around, and when he is unexpectedly elected president of the local neighbourhood committee, he resolves to invest all of his energy in his "great dream" of helping ex-offenders who are trying to redeem themselves.
Also flanking Mirko Frezza is Alessandro Borghi, who played Vittorio in Don’t Be Bad [+see also:
film profile] (out of competition at the 2015 Venice Film Festival), and who is considered one of the most promising young actors of recent years.
(Translated from Italian)