- Cosimo Alemà’s fourth feature film is an effervescent dance movie about nine young and passionate performers fighting for a part in a significant musical
Nine young, aspiring singer-dancers have seven days to convince a famous choreographer to choose them for a significant show at the Teatro Sistina, the home to musicals in Rome. It’s an impassioned challenge punctuated by intense study sessions, surprise auditions, psychological pressure and twists and turns, where a love for this art, an urgency to express oneself and a healthy hunger to do well at something important are placed centre stage. Cosimo Alemà has chosen to take on a little explored genre in Italian cinema, the dance movie, for this new directorial effort of his, entitled Backstage [+see also:
film profile] (his fourth feature after the horror film War Games [+see also:
film profile], the western/noir La santa [+see also:
film profile], and Zeta [+see also:
film profile], which is set in the rap world), which is released on 13 October, exclusively on Prime Video. In fact, the 52-year-old director - who authored hundreds of music videos over a twenty-year period for the biggest Italian and international musicians - and screenwriter Roberto Proia - who created the successful trilogy launched via the movie Sul più bello [+see also:
film profile] - have taken the genre and made it their own, blending modern and vintage elements, selecting wholly Italian music and foregrounding the friendship between these four youngsters, their shared dream and the art of performance, rather than the unbridled competition we’d expect from such a scenario.
It all begins with a session of auditions. 111 hopefuls turn up with the aim of winning a part in a significant musical which will enjoy its debut in the Sistina theatre. After a long and entertaining sequence of auditions, featuring candidates of all shapes and sizes and punctuated by peremptory calls for “Next!” and subsequent confusion, four girls and five boys are chosen. The nine of them are sure they’ve triumphed but, unbeknownst to them, the real auditions are about to begin. Reunited several days later in the notorious theatre in the heart of Rome, they can expect a week of singing, dancing and acting auditions, at the end of which a famous director and his cantankerous assistant (played by Giulio Pampiglione and Giulio Forges Davanzati respectively) will have to choose the four candidates who most deserve a part in the show.
Making their film debuts and chosen from 1,400 auditions held across Italy, the nine actors playing the “wannabes” are Aurora Moroni, Ilaria Nestovito, Yuri Pascale, Giuseppe Futia, Beatrice Dellacasa, Riccardo Suarez, Geneme Tonini, Gianmarco Galati and Matteo Giunchi. The auditions which unfold in the Sistina theatre take place every other day, which allows the authors to explore these youngsters’ lives on their days off. There are those who’ve had difficult childhoods and who started singing in order to drown out their parents’ shouting; those who are fighting to make their own dreams come true, rather than those of their high-ranking and indifferent families who would rather they were lawyers; those who are already having to choose between a child and a career, despite their young age, and those who are keeping important connections from the past under wraps. Obviously – it’s a sign of the times – there’s no shortage of gender fluidity, homosexuality or rainbow families in the film (which also stars Irene Ferri, Jane Alexander and Adolfo Margiotta as parents).
But the on-stage auditions are the real highlight of the movie: delivering thirty of Italy’s best-known songs, fished out from the sea of 80s and 90s tracks (by Loredana Berté, Matia Bazar, Ron…) and all sung live, the performance offered up by these nine aspiring stars, which is expertly edited by Eugenio Campisano and Francesco Galli, results in some truly entertaining moments and conveys a genuine sense of dedication, which is anything but a given these days and which goes far beyond the desire to be seen and the thirst for fame at all costs.
Backstage is produced by Eagle Pictures.
(Translated from Italian)
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