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On a Bike Without Saddle: The jungle of precarity in six episodes

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- The omnibus film put together by Alessandro Giuggioli, winner of the Toronto Independent Film Award, broaches the subject of job-hunting with surreal tones. In Italian cinemas from 3 November

On a Bike Without Saddle: The jungle of precarity in six episodes
“I precari di notte”, one of the episodes of On a Bike Without Saddle

There are those who sell tickets for job interviews and others who literally leave it up to God to find them a job; there are those who feign bulimia to hide a pregnancy in the office and those who, when faced with the prospect of immortality, hesitate: spend all eternity looking for a job, between cash-in-hand jobs, fixed-term contracts and millions of “we’ll let you knows”? It is into a hellish world, grotesque and full of quips that this comedy on youth precarity (and other topics) transports us in On a Bike Without Saddle [+see also:
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. This pleasant surprise, which was unveiled in the Alice nella Città section of 11th Rome Film Fest, won the Toronto Independent Film Award for Best Film and is now coming to Italian cinemas.

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Born from an idea by young actor and producer Alessandro Giuggioli, the film is made up of six more or less surreal episodes by seven first-time directors: Giovanni Battista Origo, Sole Tonnini, Gianluca Mangiasciutti, Matteo Giancaspro, Cristian Iezzi, Chiara De Marchis and Francesco Dafano. In “Santo Graal”, Edoardo Pesce and Riccardo De Filippis (both famous faces from TV series Romanzo criminale) make ends meet by emptying wine cellars, but when they find the highly sought after cup of eternal life, they are happy to give it to an elderly man in exchange for his pension allowance; in “I precari della notte” (lit. “Precarious night workers), an unhinged version of The Warriors by Walter Hill meets workers on redundancy payments and illegal workers at night; in “Curriculum Vitae”, a young man with bright hopes (Flavio Domenici) is told that he’s over-qualified by his interviewers (one of whom is played by Francesco Montanari, Libanese from Romanzo criminale, here in the role of a modern-day yuppie) and after the upteenth fruitless interview, sees himself forced to create a rather unique line of work for himself.

The point of view then shifts to that of a woman in “Crisalide”, in which a young woman (Emanuela Mascherini) pretends she’s depressed and addicted to chocolate cake (explaining why she is overweight and has bouts of nausea) to hide the fact that she is pregnant from her unscrupulous boss and hence avoid being fired; then there’s “Il parassita” (lit. “The Parasite”), the most poetic of all the episodes starring Giuggioli himself, in which a young unemployed man lives in hiding in the house of his former employer (Ciro Scalera), silently trying to help the latter improve the fate of the company; finally “Il posto fisso” (lit. “The Permanent Position”), portrays a sort of obstacle course that those who secure job interviews first must go through, a jungle populated by people willing to do anything for a permanent position, like the two friends and protagonists (Michele Bevilacqua and Luca Scapparone), who find themselves making an unexpected life choice. 

The six episodes, which are consistent between them in terms of photography, editing and tone, and are each introduced by the mellow voice of an elusive speaker from Radio Precaria Popolare, are well-written and employ a good cast of actors, all of whom have backgrounds in theatre (also worth mentioning in this regard are Alberto Di Stasio, Stefano Ambrogi, Alberto Gimignani). A glimpse at precarity through irony and bitter laughs, original, fresh and immediate. 

Produced by Tandem Film Production and made in partnership with Amaro and Tranchese Produzioni, On a Bike Without Saddle has a special supporter in the form of Colin Firth. The British Oscar-winning actor (who is also Giuggioli’s brother-in-law) was in Rome assisting with the presentation of the film, and even took part in a fake audition for a fun little promotional clip. The film will be released this Thursday, 3 November, in thirty or so copies by Zenit Distribution.

(Translated from Italian)

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