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Faute a Fidel: Julie Gavras returns to childhood


Julie Gavras’ surprising Blame it on Fidel [+see also:
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, presented in the Extra section of the RomeFilmFest, is a wonderful, all-female debut. Not only is it the feature debut by the daughter of director Costa Gravras, it is also an adaptation of the first novel by Domitilla Calamai, stars newcomer Nina Karvel – who was chosen from among 400 possible contenders – and is Silvie Pialat’s first film as executive producer.

After having worked as assistant director on films by her father and Claire Devers, Gavras was noticed in 2001 for The Pirate, the Wizard, the Thief and the Children, a documentary on elementary school children studying cinema.

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In Fidel, she returns once again to the world of childhood, to tell the story of Anna (Kervel), a nine year-old girl who lives a peaceful existence with her family, between Paris and Bordeaux until circa 1970 when, in just one year, her life is turned upside down by the radical changes in her parents (played by Julie Depardieu, another show business child, and Stefano Accorsi).

The Italian actor here plays a kind of Spanish hidalgo who moves to France to escape a rich Francoist family and discovers, somewhat late, the social movements of 1968, Communism, Allende’s Chile and anticlericalism. Perfect coordinates, then, for a perfect revolutionary that seem senseless, however, to a little girl who sees having to give up religion class, a beautiful villa with a garden and her trusted babysitter as nothing but inconveniences.

Hence, Fidel and the Communists are to blame, and Anna begins to fight her own, small “anti-revolutionary battle” against her parents and their bearded friends – Chileans, Vietnamese, Greeks and Cubans – who invade their tiny apartment. A tense showdown is triggered, with ironic and sweet scenes, which help the entire family grow up.

If in Calamai’s novel the family crisis leads directly to separation, the film ends before, leaving the spectator with a sliver of hope. The story is told strictly through the point of view of Anna, who watches her parents’ eccentricities with the innocent yet terribly ruthless eyes of a child. "I was specifically interested,” said Gavras, “in showing the effect that the idealistically well-intentioned upheaval in the life of her parents can have on a little girl".

Produced by Les Films du Worso and backed by the Ile-de-France Region, Blame it on Fidel was co-produced by Gaumont, who will release the film in France on November 29.

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(Translated from Italian)

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