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BIF&ST 2021

Review: Sulla giostra

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- Giorgia Cecere stages an intense and ironic female duel over the fate of a family home, starring the excellent Lucia Sardo and Claudia Gerini

Review: Sulla giostra
Claudia Gerini and Lucia Sardo in Sulla giostra

How important in a person's life are the places where he or she has lived? How much can the emotional heritage of a house be worth? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves when we watch Sulla giostra [+see also:
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, the new film by Giorgia Cecere (Il primo incarico [+see also:
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, In un posto bellissimo [+see also:
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) presented at the 12th Bif&st in Bari in the ItaliaFilmFest section. A bittersweet comedy that stages an all-female duel, in which two women from two different generations clash over the fate of an old family home, one of which wants to sell it and the other has no intention of leaving.

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The excellent protagonists of this challenge to the last set of keys, so to speak, are Lucia Sardo and Claudia Gerini. The first plays Ada, an elderly woman from the South (in Puglia) who has always worked as a housekeeper in a beautiful country villa. Now that the house is for sale, Ada is forced to find another place to live. This is a cruel fate for an old woman without a husband or children, who has devoted her entire life to taking care of a house and a family that are not her own. But Ada is a stubborn and proud woman, and rather than move in with her sister and have to live with a grumpy brother-in-law, she decides not to give the keys back to the real estate agent (Alessio Vassallo) and, in effect, to squat in the villa.

This is where Irene (Gerini) comes in, returning from Rome to her hometown to try to resolve the issue. Irene is a busy professional, separated for many years and with a teenage son. Her mother has decided to leave the villa and move to the capital too, and Irene would love to get her share of the money from the sale of the property. Her mission is therefore to convince Ada to move out. She thinks she can handle it in a couple of days, but the dispute will be longer and more demanding than expected and will take unexpected turns.

Cecere, a former student and collaborator of Gianni Amelio, very finely portrays the separation between the two women, so different in age, lifestyle and social class, while emphasising their long-standing familiarity and trust through small gestures and intimate, sometimes biting dialogue ("We can see you're alone," Ada says to Irene, while the latter struggles to maintain her successful facade). Between love and hate, visits from potential buyers, attempts at sabotage, surprise arrivals (with Ada who, like a good "landlady" is always ready to prepare a room and add a place at the table, in front of an increasingly incredulous and exasperated Irene), the house at the centre of the dispute really becomes like a merry-go-round, where some people get off and some get on (in the cast there is also Paolo Sassanelli in the role of the ex-husband, and the young Edoardo Di Lernia who plays the son), and where, above all, in the long run, it is worth letting yourself go.

The director, who also wrote the screenplay with Pierpaolo Pirone, thus makes a film that is as light as it is bitter, about roots and mental burdens, but which is also a hymn to the ability to give up control of things and to accept life's changes, because, as we know, sometimes clinging hurts more than letting go.

Sulla giostra is produced by Anele with Rai Cinema and realised with the support of the Apulia Film Commission. After its world premiere at Bif&st, the film will be distributed in Italian cinemas on 30 September by Notorious Pictures.

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(Translated from Italian by Manuela Lazic)

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