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Italy, 2008, 95 Minute Running Time
Program: Contemporary World CinemaLanguage: Italian English Subtitles
Producer: Francesco PamphiliEditor: Ilaria FraioliScreenwriter: Ugo ChitiCinematographer: Gigi MartinucciPrincipal Cast: Ilaria Occhini, Dorotheea Petre, Vlad Ivanov
Federico Bondi’s warmhearted drama about the complex relationship between a cranky, elderly Florentine widow (illustrious Italian actress Ilaria Occhini) and the recently arrived Romanian immigrant (Dorotheea Petre) who becomes her indispensable companion has its roots in the director’s own family history. “Gemma was my grandmother,” he has said, “and Angela was her caregiver. I owe the soul…of this story entirely to them.”
Initially wary, the lonely old woman gradually takes comfort in the presence of the girl who reminds her of her younger self. But the story of their growing closeness takes a bleak turn when Angela’s lover back home suddenly disappears. The two women set off together to find him in what becomes an unexpected road adventure, arduous for Gemma yet filled with revelation for them both.
Set in 2006, the year Romania entered the European Union, Bondi’s film shows clear geopolitical underpinnings. A country in hectic transition, Romania now resembles Italy as it was in the teeming postwar 1950s, seeking to redefine itself in the wake of bloody upheaval. But Gemma and Angela are no mere vehicles for Bondi’s social views. These beautifully drawn characters, living on the margins of society, find in each other not just tender friendship but tough-minded solidarity. Thanks to Occhini’s and Petre’s pitch-perfect performances, Black Sea proves as thoughtful as it is touching.
Anna & John J. Sie Foundation, In cooperation with Dante Alighieri Society of Denver
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