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FILMS / REVIEWS Italy / Germany

Review: My Place Is Here


- The film by Cristiano Bortone and Daniela Porto sees Ludovica Martino dazzling as a young mother who defies the patriarchy in the wake of the Second World War

Review: My Place Is Here
Marco Leonardi and Ludovica Martino in My Place Is Here

In the second post-war period in Italy, women had to fight hard against the patriarchy and demand recognition of their rights. Paola Cortellesi recently shed light on this in There is Still Tomorrow [+see also:
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(now in receipt of 6 shiny, new David di Donatello awards), and Cristiano Bortone’s new movie My Place Is Here - which is written and co-directed by Daniela Porto, who also penned the homonymous book (published by Sperling & Kupfer) on which the film is based - is continuing in this vein. Hitting Italian cinemas on 9 May courtesy of Adler Entertainment, Bortone’s drama unfolds in rural Calabria in the 1940s, when the only possible future for a young mother seemed to be marrying a widower, taking care of his house and children, and putting up and shutting up. The film was presented in a premiere within the ItaliaFilmFest/New Italian Cinema section of Bari’s Bif&st back in March, where it walked away with trophies for Best Director and Best Actress.

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Indeed, Ludovica Martino does deliver her most accomplished acting performance here, dazzling in the role of Marta, a young woman who passively accepts her place in the world and the decisions others make about her life. Impregnated the day before her betrothed goes off to war, she finds herself alone with a small child on her hands, as her fiancé never returns from the front. “You’ve dragged us all through the mud and given us an extra mouth to feed”, her mother and father (Bianca Maria D’Amato and Francesco Biscione) remind her unapologetically, while simultaneously promising her to an elderly and rather unattractive widower-farmer, Mr. Gino (Antonino Sgrò), who has two children. “It’s better than nothing”, the other female villagers snigger.

Marta sketches in silence and secretly reads the books which someone keeps slipping into her coat pocket. Preparations for the wedding begin, amidst very little enthusiasm, and it’s at this point that we meet Lorenzo (Marco Leonardi), the parish priest’s assistant who’s also known as “the wedding man”. He uses his refined taste to help young brides organise their weddings and he’s openly gay, which doesn’t make life easy in a Calabrian village in the mid-twentieth century. Marta and Lorenzo are forced to fight against prejudice every single day. They become friends, and it’s Lorenzo who eventually opens this young woman’s mind and points out the path towards freedom (a typing course in a nearby town), all at a time when women are crowding the country’s town squares, demanding their rights.

There’ve been a number of films, of late, about female emancipation, but this one has the virtue of delivering a realistic and sensitive portrayal of the extreme poverty which was typical of rural southern Italy in the ‘40s, as well as offering a glimpse of a hidden, unsuspected and ahead-of-its-time queer community. It’s all very straightforward, and the emotion elicited stems from simple things, such as the act of typing - an act which seems transformed into music through the touch of these young women’s fingers on their keyboards, and which offers Marta a vital opportunity for a less gruelling and uncharted future.

My Place Is Here is an Italian-German co-production steered by Orisa Produzioni and Goldkind Film, and sold worldwide by Beta Cinema.

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(Translated from Italian)

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