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Christian – by Saku Cinardi

In one of the most infamous suburbs of Rome, a godless bully discovers he posseses a power he will need to control.

10 – 15 | 2015 | Drama | Italy | Live-Action | Religion | 2015

Christian lives with his grandmother in a small apartment in the suburb of Tor Bella Monaca, Rome. Christian is a taciturn, short hair, muscular man. His body is covered with tattoos, depicting various symbols belonging to his personal iconography, especially religious. He is a bully of the suburbs, living on the fringes of society, spending his days dealing and involved in dodgy businesses. A renegade like many others, but with a painful secret. You may think: same “old story of the underworld”. But that would be too simplistic. The absurd finale will upset your expectations and give meaning to the quote from H.D. Lawrence that promotes the film: «The most beautiful thing in nature, a flower, it has its roots in the land and manure.»

Just an observation on this short from someone who is born, raised, lives and works in Rome. It’s always interesting when very connoted environments manage to keep their “localism” intact, but also be recognisable worldwide. In this case, the decadent neighborhood of Tor Bella Monaca in Rome is the perfect setting for this story that oscillate between harsh reality and fantasy. It becomes a kind of “virtual suburb” where anyone can dive in and make it its own. In short, it’s not just Rome. Those desolate streets, those dilapidated buildings, those alleys and nasty remittances are nothing more than the inner scenario playing inside of the protagonist. An expression of his feelings, his anger, his disillusionment.

Undoubtedly, the effectiveness of this vision is a merit of Roman director Roberto “Saku” Cinardi who – even by indulging in some aestheticisms – is capable of giving an (deliberately) international appeal to this short. It was originally conceived as a science fiction story, except that, as he puts it: “UFOs never land in Italy”. The challenge was to tell something mysterious and enigmatic, but still linked to local beliefs, myths and superstitions.

And so, suddenly we leave the typical “authoriality” (boring and pretentious) of the Italian cinema of the last 20 years: bourgeois, exposé, middlebrow, vaguely depressive and introverted, too tied to themes with a social or sociological grip: the immigrant, the unemployed, the divorced, the children with cancer, the economic crisis, father-courage, “these shitty years”. Actually the topics are not really the problem, but it’s rather in the way they are narrated. Here, the story seems to be following the usual raw and dramatic development before suddenly drifting into a genre film. And it works.

On a narrative level it hits me how a movie so dilated and laconic – an anomaly in the world of shorts – still manages to keep the tension and the interest high. Supported by the strong performance of the lead actor Gabriele Mainetti, the director generates a good sense of waiting and curiosity in the viewer, and maintains it throughout the film. It is not a trivial matter, and we would like more Italian directors, newcomers or not, especially in the “protected reserve” of the short film, to try out stories less obvious than those modeled on the stereotypes delivered by Italian massmedia. The fantastic, the absurd, the grotesque, the codification of various genres and subgenres can certainly help Italian cinema to emerge from their creative limits and from its geographical boundaries. Christian, produced by the Milanese creative agency K48 and Quiet, Please! is a good example in this direction, we’ll see if it will prove to be a “pilot” for a long feature or maybe for a series.

Saku Cinardi is not a rookie, he’s been working for years as a director of music videos and commercials in Italy and abroad, sneaking through a variety of styles and genres. He was born and raised in the outskirts of Rome, and has always cultivated a passion for music, having also played in adolescence in different punk and metal bands of the Capitoline scene, prior to approach graphic arts, web design, and of course, videomaking. A diverse and international background that enables him to tell “things he knows” without falling into provincialism, with an effective and updated language that can be understood all over the world.

Tommaso Fagioli

Tommaso Fagioli

Tommaso Fagioli

Founder, creative director, curator @ Good Short Films. Fond of great stories, great thinkers, great booze. My motto is, your motto.

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