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VENICE 2019 Orizzonti

Review: Nevia

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- VENICE 2019: Nunzia De Stefano’s first work, filmed in a container park on the outskirts of Naples, is striking for the quiet tenacity of its young protagonist

Review: Nevia
Virginia Apicella in Nevia

"How do we get away from here?" This is the question Nevia asks her neighbour Lucia (Franca Abategiovanni). With her mother dead and her dad in prison, Nevia lives with her grandma in a container park in Ponticelli, on the eastern outskirts of Naples. She’ll be 18 in a few days, but she seems younger. She does whatever she can to scrape a few cents together. She collects rubbish door-to-door from elderly ladies’ houses and takes her little sister Enza to school (Rosy Franzese). Her grandmother Nanà (the singer-actress Pietra Montecorvino, her sparkling eyes oozing Neapolitan spirit) rents out rooms to prostitutes and, in order to repay the debts accumulated by her imprisoned son, she also hides contraband (mostly mobile phones) for Peppe (Gianfranco Gallo), a small-scale neighbourhood “boss”. Peppe’s son (Simone Borrelli), meanwhile, who’s thirty years old, has his eye on Nevia. And for the latter, his attentions are nothing short of a nightmare.

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In competition in the Orizzonti section of the Venice International Film Festival, Nevia [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
is the first feature film by Naples’ Nunzia De Stefano, who previously worked with Matteo Garrone on Gomorrah [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Domenico Procacci
interview: Jean Labadie
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile
]
, Reality [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile
]
, Tale of Tales [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Matteo Garrone
film profile
]
and Dogman [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile
]
. The roots of the movie are autobiographical, and this can be seen in the passion injected into the film and the empathy that is so clearly felt for the young protagonist, played by a surprising Virginia Apicella. De Stefano herself lived in the Marianella container park in Naples for ten years, as she and her family waited to be provided with suitable accommodation following the violent earthquake in 1980 which forced them to evacuate the family home. Forty years on from the earthquake, these container parks are still in existence and, in some cases, such as in Ponticelli, where Nevia was filmed, they’ve become little communities, welcoming marginalised people from every corner of the globe who try to withstand the surrounding decay.

Undamaged and determined, Nevia does everything she can to remove herself and her sister from her grandma’s trafficking activities, from the unwanted attention of adults and from all those rites of passage which are written in the stars for a young woman who lives in an area where it’s normal to become an adult without first being allowed to be a child. "Being born a girl here is really rubbish" is Lucia’s response to the crucial question asked by Nevia, who sees in a travelling circus a chance to escape and find freedom, as if some kind of update on Fellini’s metaphor. In 86 minutes, Nevia doesn’t manage to drill down with sufficient depth into its coming of age story, but is nonetheless striking for the quiet tenacity of the lead character, who is the camera’s constant focus as she moves around in surroundings which, whilst dilapidated, are also full of dignity.

Nevia is produced by Garrone via his company Archimede, and is co-produced by Rai Cinema. True Colours are responsible for international sales.

(Translated from Italian)

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