What the hell was going on in Italy during a time many in government were perceived as being indistinguishable from the Mafia? That’s the potent subtext for festival favourite Gianni Amelio’s (La Tenerezza, Open Doors, Stolen Children) complex take on Bettino Craxi, leader of the Italian Socialist Party (1976-1993) and Prime Minister of Italy from 1983 till 1987.
A box office hit at home, this semi-biographical drama traces Craxi’s final months with his family at his oasis villa in Hammamet, Tunisia, where he fled to avoid prison for crimes of bribery and corruption. Amelio chooses to focus on his subject in a moment of impotence, ravaged by disease and forced to reckon with the loss of authority and respect. Under a heavy layer of prosthetics, veteran actor Pierfrancesco Favino (star of Bellocchio’s The Traitor) masterfully embodies Craxi’s larger-than-life persona, employing a repertoire of nuanced gestures while commanding the screen with appropriate hauteur.
Pierfrancesco Favino, Livia Rossi, Luca Filippi, Silvia Cohen, Alberto Paradossi
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Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.
Born in Calabria in 1945, Gianni Amelio is one of the most notable filmmakers of Italy’s “middle generation”. He started his career in 1965 as an assistant director for Liliana Cavani and Vittorio De Seta, and graduated to directing with Blow to the Heart (1982). Open Doors, The Stolen Children and Lamerica established Amelio as a regular on the international festival circuit. The Way We Laughed (1998) won the Golden Lion at the Venice. Hammamet is his 13th feature.
Blow to the Heart (1982); The Stolen Children (1993); The Way We Laughed (1998)