Porca Nonna

Hit The Road, Granny is an excellent documentary by Duccio Chiarini, (Italy) 2011. It explores both the career and family life of Delia Ubaldi. She was born in Italy but the family soon settled in France, where her father found work in a factory. They struggled economically and also suffered prejudice as immigrants. Derisively called macaroni-eaters.

Her mother, determined that the children receive a good education, paid for their schooling with produce she grew. Delia, the first immigrant in her class, was determined to fit in. By the time she graduated secondary school she spoke French, German, and Italian. At the end of WWII she married a handsome Italian and moved back to Italy with him.

Delia used her language skills to find her first job and learned enough about the fashion industry to eventually launch her own company. She sold to stores in France and Germany. Constantly traveling for work and pleasure. She amassed great wealth over time and owned impressive homes in several countries.

Her grandson, filmmaker Duccio Chiarini, remembers her sudden arrivals and departures throughout his childhood. Her unwelcome presence at significant family celebrations always left someone crying.

She was a bigger than life figure who remained a mystery for him. Reviled by not only his parents but also other members of the extended family. His desire to find out what he could about her became the inspiration for the film.

New Italian Cinema continues through the weekend. More information at the San Francisco Film Society.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

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Culture Clash

Kryptonite!, directed by Ivan Cotroneo, (Italy) 2011, is set in 1973 Napoli. As Rosaria, the mother of nine-year-old Peppino, is taking her son to school, the two are stopped by a cousin who thinks he’s Superman. Gennaro doesn’t let them pass until he conducts a thorough search of Rosaria’s purse for kryptonite, the dreaded substance he believes prevents him from flying.

Peppino is repeatedly tormented by his classmates and terrorized by the teacher. At other times the young boy is shuttled from one family member to another while his mother works as a secretary in the family firm and his father sells sewing machines in a nearby town.

Peppino accompanies his spinster aunt desperate to find a husband. Or he’s taken in tow by a rebellious, carefree younger aunt and uncle so eager for new adventure that they often forget about the boy.

Despite the chaos that surrounds him, Peppino not only survives but also manages to find inner strength and even wisdom, his formative journey aided by imaginary visits from his recently deceased cousin who eventually gains the full status of super hero.

Throughout the film there is a continual intergenerational struggle between rigid, traditional attitudes and the allure of popular music, youth culture, and more radical politics of the time. The first-time director manages to bring the various threads to a satisfying resolution.

Information and tickets for New Italian Cinema screenings available at the San Francisco Film Society.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Sweet Sixteen

New Italian Cinema 2012 will celebrate sixteen years in San Francisco with eleven dramatic features and one documentary. The majority of the films were released in either 2011 or 2012. The exception are three works that are part of the Valeria Golino tribute. All screenings will be at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema 11 to 18 November 2012.

Tickets and information available on the San Francisco Film Society website.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved