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BIF&ST 2019

Review: Rosa


- A couple in their sixties struggling to cope with a grave loss and a woman who finds new life through sex are at the heart of Katja Colja’s debut film, screened at Bari's Bif&st

Review: Rosa
Lunetta Savino in Rosa

In her first fully leading role in a film, Lunetta Savino, the well-known actress of fiction TV who has also starred in works by Ferzan Ozpetek including Saturn in Opposition and Loose Cannons, demonstrates great sensitivity in her portrayal of a 60 year-old woman who is suffering great pain in her life, both for the death of her daughter and for the imminent loss of the only other reference points left in her life: her husband and her home. Rosa, which marks the feature film debut of the Trieste director-screenwriter Katja Colja (formerly an assistant director for the Taviani brothers and an actress in various RAI 3 documentaries), is an Italy-Slovenia co-production which had its world premiere at the 10th Bari Bif&st, in the International Panorama section of the competition. 

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Following the tragic loss of their thirty-something daughter, Maja, Rosa and her husband Igor (Boris Cavazza) make the decision to separate and to sell the family home (“I want to live with the living, not with the dead like you do”, he says), but they’re yet to break the news to their other daughter, Nadia (Anita Kravos), who’s about to get married. Her parents, therefore, put on an act, pretending they still share a bedroom, despite the fact that when Nadia leaves, they can’t even stand to eat at the same table. The atmosphere pervading their home, where a great deal of the scenes are filmed, is heavy and claustrophobic. Until, one day, while going through the bedroom of her deceased daughter - which she keeps under lock and key - and in the midst of so much grey, Rosa uncovers an unexpected flash of colour: a bright pink sex toy.

“We don’t know anything about her”, Rosa admits to Nadia as she wonders what kind of life her daughter Maja led and whether she was in a relationship. Her desire to make sense of it all will lead her to Lena (Simonetta Solder), an extroverted hairdresser – and a close friend of Maja’s – who, in the back room of her salon, organises weekly meet-ups aimed exclusively at women who are looking to rediscover their bodies and their sexuality. Reluctant to begin with, Rosa slowly starts to let go and to enjoy the company of these new friends; and, as if guided by the past of her daughter, she will find the strength to open herself up to life, to sensuality and to love once more. 

Without fear of revealing the ravages of time on her own face and body, Savino poignantly surrenders herself to the director’s vision. It’s not a film full of twists or surprises: the script, very simple and straightforward, homes in on the smaller things in day-to-day life, and on what is left of a family and of forty years of marriage in the aftermath of such a great loss. Perhaps somewhat underdeveloped in terms of its themes (it also touches upon the subject of the Italian-Slovenian border, communism, trafficking …), it is a sensitive and very female film nonetheless (the screenplay was written by the director herself, alongside Elisa Amoruso and Tania Pedroni). 

Rosa is produced by Minimum Fax Media with Casablanca and Pianeta Zero, and with RAI Cinema. It was shot over five weeks in Trieste and Slovenia and received support from Mibact (the Italian Ministry for Culture and Heritage), the FVG Film Commission, the FVG Audiovisual Fund and Eurimages.

(Translated from Italian)

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