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VENICE 2012 Venice Days

Eyes that reach beyond the sea in Stefano Mordini’s Acciaio

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- The author of Provincia meccanica once more exposes harsh realities void of any prospect. Among the main actors, Michele Riondino and Vittoria Puccini

Eyes that reach beyond the sea in Stefano Mordini’s Acciaio

Seen from Piombino - the city of steel - the Isle of Elba is a happy mirage. From Piombino, most places are perceived as offering better lives, which is how Anna sees it in Stefano Mordini’s latest film, Acciaio [+see also:
trailer
interview: Stefano Mordini
film profile
]
. The film brings a piece of harsh and desolate everyday life, found in so many monotonous, ugly industrial regions, to this year’s edition of Venice Days.

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It is summertime and in September Anna (newcomer Matilde Giannini) will start high school. She spends her days with her great friend Francesca (the penetrating eyes of Anna Bellezza), on the beach, in abandoned cabins, filming clips for YouTube, or simply close to home, around the neighborhood, where other youngsters are also aimlessly, and resignedly wandering around. There are few prospects in Piombino besides working in the factory. Anna’s brother Alessio (Michele Riondino) is doing it. He believes in his work and wants to keep it. So much better to be a factory worker than to earn a dishonest living.

The story of Acciaio, based on Silvia Avallone’s bestselling novel, shows multiple reactions to the town. Some want to escape, others want to stay, and some are even on their way back. Like Elena (Vittoria Puccini): she tried to leave, but couldn’t find anything better elsewhere. For the fragile, going adrift is a constant threat. And in the background, are the shortcomings of your own parents, whose footsteps the young protagonists swear they will never follow.

“In Avallone’s book, I was fascinated by the relationship these people had with work,” explains Mordini, “the love and hate which feed these factories, but also the story of that powerful age – adolescence.” The factory is omnipresent. You see it in the distance with its smoking chimneys, night and day. You go into it, immersed in its dust, deafening sounds and spectacular fire. Michele Riondino, who knows the Piombino factory, having spent time with its workers and eaten with them in their canteen, says “it is a line of work full of silence and waiting. In a blast furnace, boredom can kill.”

The sea which separates Piombino from Elba is marked by boats incessantly going backwards and forwards, carrying families on holiday. The Piombino youth melancholically watch them from afar. Their own ticket towards happiness has too high a price. The working classes may well go to heaven, but they certainly won’t be going on holiday.

(Translated from Italian)

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