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LOCARNO 2023 Competition

Review: Rossosperanza

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- The latest powerful film from Annarita Zambrano is a cruel and violent satire of respectability in a society kept captive by its small and petty privileges

Review: Rossosperanza
Luca Varone, Leonardo Giuliani, Ludovica Rubino and Margherita Morellini in Rossosperanza

Annarita Zambrano, director born in Rome but based in Paris, has presented her short films in prestigious international festivals, before arriving in Cannes where her debut feature After the War [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Annarita Zambrano
film profile
]
was selected in the Un Certain Regard section. Rossosperanza [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, her second feature, presented in the International Competition of the Locarno Film Festival, transports us back in time to the roaring nineties, within the walls of a reeducation institute dedicated to  “curing” deviances, a last resort for high-flying parents wanting to “fix” bruised and rebellious offspring determined to impose their own rules. 

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The nineties, a period both violent and exciting for dancing to the beat of techno music, are at the heart of this latest film by Annarita Zambrano. Rossosperanza tells the somewhat surreal story of a group of young people who find in music, in the gathering of bodies as they move to the rhythm of repetitive and cathartic sounds, an escape route to a present where they no longer feel like they belong. Within this elite group, born with silver spoons in their mouths yet in a state of complete revolt, we find Nazzarena (Margherita Morellini), a sociopath who tried to kill a bishop and family friend with cockroach poison, Alfonso (Lonardo Giuliani) who, despite a Christian Democrat father, does not intend to suppress his homosexuality, Marzia (Ludovica Rubino) who seduces wealthy adults convinced they can achieve anything while she dreams of becoming a Mediaset baby diva, and Vittoriano (Luca Varone), a sort of cannibal locked up in a silence that protects him from the violence of a consumerist society where empathy and tenderness no longer count for anything.

Their present is marked by repetitive exercises of self-control given them by grotesque educators/gurus who believe they can repair their dysfunctional minds. Indeed, what truly matters for the families of these rebellious young people is a return to a normality based on docile submission. Rossosperanza is a political film, a film against the power of a State that desperately holds on to the concept of the family, the “respectable” kind, hetero-patriarchal and bourgeois. The beating heart of a perverse machine powered by a chauvinist mentality that cruelly mocks inclusivity, the family becomes for the protagonists of Rossosperanza an enemy to fight. The struggle is made of moments of gathering between the youths who express themselves with their bodies more than with their words, drifting castaways desperately looking for an island where they can express their own identity free from all bourgeois dictates. As the director herself told Pardonews, “cinema can shake consciences in a way, even if that makes some people nervous;” hers is a cinema that is subversive and political, opposed to all normative constraints. 

The thirst for rebellion, embodied by the film’s young protagonists, also guides the narrative choices of Zambrano, who transforms reality into an absurd amusement park populated with freaks who proudly reclaim their diversity. Whether it is about a tiger escape from a private zoo or a severed finger that becomes a war trophy, nothing in Rossosperanza is as it seems. The film therefore becomes an allegory for a decadent world in which abuses are transformed into normality (references to controversial TV programme Non è la Rai are not random). In this context, fighting to defend one's uniqueness and humanity is vital. Cruel and poetic, the universe created by Zambrano, which at times recalls Pasolini’s Pigsty, creeps under the skin like a sweet poison.

Rossosperanza was produced by MAD Entertainment and co-produced by Minerva Pictures and TS Productions with RAI Cinema. Minerva Pictures is also handling international sales.

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(Translated from Italian)

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