My review of Jonas Carpignano’s The Ciambra is over at Flickering Myth and below.
In a small Romani community in Calabria, Italy, Pio Amato is desperate to grow up fast. Amidst a backdrop of tensions between the local Italians, recent arrivals from African countries and his fellow Romani, Pio must decide what route to go down in his quest to become an adult.
There is a wonderful moment in The Ciambra, Jonas Carpignano’s haunting depiction of a boy’s struggle with adolescence, where our lead character witnesses a vivid waking dream of a horse walking around the city streets. This vision of freedom beautifully juxtaposes Pio’s ideas of his community’s past with his own more tightly constrained present on the streets of Gioia Tauro, Calabria.
The film follows Pio (Pio Amato) as he tries to figure out how best to prove himself to his family as a responsible provider. This need only intensifies after his older brother and role model Cosimo is arrested by the local Carabinieri. We see Pio smoking, drinking and fooling around in nightclubs and taking on small-time hustles with little direction. His lack of motivation in life and problems with finding any kind of meaning are powerfully displayed and point towards a future that is not yet decided, but one that is, we suspect, potentially full of further sorrow and difficulty.
The film uses non-performers as its cast and the effect is an increase in the natural documentary style of the feature. The scenes featuring Pio and the whole extended Amato family have a tumultuous rhythm and flair that appear largely unscripted, as if the audience has just been admitted to a place at the chaotically boisterous dinner table.
The film’s writer and director Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea, 2015) spent years based in Calabria, and his knowledge of the region has certainly paid off for this feature. There is an authenticity about the backdrop and the tense atmosphere of everyday life, as different communities of Italian, Romani and Africans live around each other with an abiding level of mistrust.
The film is specifically about Pio though. And taken purely on this level it is a successful and emotionally rich depiction of a boy growing up. The relationship between Pio and Ayiva (Koudous Seihon), a newcomer to Italy from Burkino Faso, is central to the story, which is less about plot and more about the turbulent emotions behind feelings of family loyalty and identity.
Ayiva is really the boy’s only true friend, and the film’s potent insight into how people from different cultures and backgrounds can understand each other- if only for a brief segment of time- provides some small piece of light in an otherwise bleak, yet compelling, outlook of a life on the fringes. The Ciambra is a difficult film to experience, but an important one, with much to say about desperation, hope and society.
THE CIAMBRA is released in UK cinemas on June 15th
The surgeon had been awake for days. Looking down at the patient’s tattered face, he grimaced. This would need more than a regular skin graft.
He saw a twitch on the patient’s face. A faint mumble, and then a scream.
“Please Lord, do not forsake me!”
Since moving to Sydney, I have started working with the film collective Knowledge Variable.
We are producing art films with a focus on the experimental and strange, the avant-garde and the poetic and the mysterious and the magical.
I’m looking forward to writing, acting in and producing new films and ideas.
Check out our youtube channel here.
Older lady in some agitation
Halfway inside the doorway
And halfway on the street
She beckons for help with one hand
The other keeping tight hold of a man incapacitated
She is telling him off for being difficult
He was refusing to get into his wheelchair
She instructs me to hold his arm
While we position the chair
Eventually he angles himself in slowly, securely
“He thinks he can walk more than he can”
“I can!” he adds
We say goodbye
And they both look happier
Than they did when I first saw them
Island Zero is a decent low-budget paranoid suspense thriller. My review of Island Zero is over at Flickering Myth now
I feature in a short film by the filmmaker Darcy Prince. ‘Strut’ was filmed in central Sydney May 2018.
I’ve been trying my hand at some acting recently here in Sydney. I’ve been working with the talented filmmaker Darcy Prince on some short experimental pieces. If anyone would like to see his work it is here on the youtube channel Knowledge Variable.
The films involving me can be viewed on this playlist.
1. A Fear of the number 13
2. Friday 13th.
3. Unlucky for most
4. Who witness this
5. Dumber One
6. Assault on the senses.
7. Another old Greek word is
9. But the more modern
11. Says it just as well
12. And Shouts louder
13. On July 13th
In the cemetery under the sun-glazed clouds
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper
Are tripping their way into
Marie Laveau studies the Americans
From the present privacy of her chambers
And considers a spell
The tie-dyed dead dance
and we are here Today
Where the chants ring out
Both loud and true