Aside from being an endemic nuisance in Italy, the mob has always been grist to the film and television mills, with gritty Naples-based show Gomorrah, the country’s top TV export, being a recent example .
But there’s a big shift afoot in the way Italian producers and talent are tackling organized crime tropes once steeped solely in patriarchal pathos. Mob stories from Italy are mostly women these days. Or rather, the perspective is female.
Take Amazon’s recently released Italian original Bang Bang Baby, the 1980s Milanese tale of 16-year-old Alice Barone (rising star Arianna Becheroni) who, while living with her single mother, accidentally learns that that her father, whom she thought of, was dead, very much alive and a boss of the Calabrian crime syndicate known as ‘Ndrangheta.
Against her mother’s wishes, she joins the dark side of her family and befriends her paternal grandmother, feisty Nonna Guendalina Barone, who is also an ‘Ndrangheta boss. The criminal granny is played by Dora Romano, known to audiences outside of Italy as the matriarch who eats mozzarella with her hands and spouts vulgarities in Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God.
“If some disgusting bastard comes along, I’ll dissolve him in acid, so help me God!” Nonna Barone blurts out at one point.
Stupid “Bang Bang” is produced by Lorenzo Mieli, producer of “The Young Pope” and “My Brilliant Friend,” who notes that like “Gomorrah,” it’s only loosely grounded in reality. What is special about the series, he says, is that we see the story from the point of view of the protagonist Alice.
Mieli says he’s also interested in this world “because it’s a matriarchy, not a patriarchy,” given that women are known to play a central role in the ‘Ndrangheta.
The ‘Ndrangheta is also the world of “Una Femmina – The Code of Silence,” a film with more gravitas than “Bang Bang,” which opened in Berlin earlier this year. The revenge drama revolves around Rosa, a young rebel who as a child saw her mother murdered by her uncle Tore; She later learns from her grandmother that he had forced her mother to drink hydrochloric acid and die the death of a woman who “talked too much”.
Rosa’s character, played by newcomer Lina Siciliano, distills the many voices in Italian journalist Lirio Abbate’s book “Fimmine Ribelli” about women who had the courage to rebel against the ‘Ndrangheta and their codes.
The film’s director, Francesco Costabile, says “Una Femmina” is “full of anger and humanity.” He calls it “a crime story told from a woman’s point of view,” noting that “psychological grip, repression, and domestic blackmail are the foundations of Rosa’s world.”
The desire to break away from the heavy burden of being born into an ‘Ndrangheta family is also the central theme in A Chiara, Jonas Carpignano’s slice-of-life drama, which opens in Cannes in 2021 with the Director’s Fortnight Award was recently published by Neon in the US
Carpignano, who lives in the coastal town of Gioia Tauro – known as the Ndrangheta hotbed – says he decided to tackle this issue after seeing “the impact it is having on the community and the people close to it , had without being there.”
As his protagonist, Carpignano chose the then 15-year-old Swamy Rotolo, an amateur whom he had known since she was nine. The director was therefore able to “bring things from her real life into the script to make the character more like her. Although she’s obviously not part of a mafia family,” he notes.
In May, Rotolo, now 17, won the statuette for Best Actress for “A Chiara” at the David di Donatello Awards in Italy, becoming the youngest Italian to have won the coveted award in the 67 editions of the event .
It’s another sign things are changing in Italy.
(Pictured: “Bang Bang Baby”)
https://variety.com/2022/tv/global/bang-bang-baby-italy-mob-women-film-tv-1235332226/ Italy’s mob stories are opening up to women