Open Roads 2013: Il Riscatto – The Redemption (Giovanna Taviani – 2013)

“Unlikely Combinations” may be considered one of the most effective recipes to drive engagement in arts.

In cinema in general and in our case Italian cinema, you can instantly think of many successful examples. Here are two prominent location themes that were heavily used in both comedy and drama genres: 1) South and North differences: Mafioso – (Alberto Lattuada – 1962) where a Milanese couple is visiting the husband’s Sicilian hometown. And vice versa Rocco e I Suoi Fratelli where a Southern family is coming into grips facing the society of the industrial North. 2) Immigration themes: Culture clash for an Italian immigrant in Switzerland, I have recently wrote about: Pane e Pane e cioccolata – Bread and Chocolate (Franco Brussati – 1974) or Bello, onesto, emigrato Australia sposerebbe compaesana illibata – A Girl in Australia – 1971) depicting  Alberto Sordi as an Italian immigrant in Australia awaiting an Italian bride to arrive and the comedy of errors that ensues.

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One of the great delights attending Open Roads New Italian Cinema festival at Lincoln Center, is the charming short films you get to discover. This year, I caught two. This film that followed by Q&A with director Giovanna Tavaiani and Hand Made Cinema following the same format.

In this documentary, director Giovanna Taviani leverages the principle of “Unlikely Combinations” by following Salvatore Striano, a Napolitan prisoner that found his redemption through theater acting in Shakespeare plays at Rebibbia Prison. His journey was the premise for brothers Taviani’s 2012 award-winning Cesare deve morire – Caesar Must Die.  In this film, Giovanna Taviani places Striano in San Miniato, the Tuscan town that served as the setting for brothers Taviani’s 1982 La Notte di San Lorenzo – The Night of the Shooting Stars.

Striano walks the quaint alleys of this picturesque town, underscoring the south and north differences, while meeting locals that share their stories about the massacre that took place at the town’s church during WWII.  In this sense, the film cleverly weaves in the personal anomalies of Striano’s journey with the past of this Tuscan town and the wartime ordeals its people as a collective suffered.

Opening words from director Giovanna Taviani before the screening

At the Q&A session, there was an interesting debate about the translation of the movie title to English. Il Riscatto means The Rescue, but the English title used was The Redemption. It was finally settled and I agree, that Redemption is more appropriate. Rescue deals with the physical removal of danger, but redemption adds another layer the spiritual rescue and self-realization that Striano found through art – from a criminal with no future to an actor in demand.


By Shlomi Ron

Visual marketing guy with a penchant for fine Italian cinema.

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