by Marcello Sannino
Carmela is thirty, beautiful and as wild and untamed as an Amazon. She struggles to get by on her own, doing endless oddjobs until she finds herself involved in a business racket with the immigrants who populate the maze of alleyways in the centre of Naples. It's like one of the circles of hell, where even to get a residence permit and then a job – you have to pay. She has an eleven-year old daughter called Maria. They live with her mother, Anna, in Portici, a nearby coastal town in the province of Naples. Their relationship is a fraught one: Anna wishes her daughter would lead a simpler, more grounded life; but instead she is making the same mistakes she herself made in her time. Carmela has been more of a sister than a mother to Maria. The girl suffers because of this and has long been monitored by social services. Carmela feels the time has now come to take on the responsibilities of motherhood. She desperately wants to win her daughter’s trust. She makes a sincere effort. She meets Tarek, a forty-year old Algerian who has lived in Naples for twenty years. He is strongly attracted to Carmela and feels no small amount of tenderness. But this fragile edifice on which she tries to build a life gradually starts to crumble. This is a story told against the backdrop of a city that acts as a metaphor of the contemporary world – multicultural and dust-laden, sensual and unjust, where sparse beams of sunlight merely serve to cultivate our illusions. A place where you can arrive but you can never leave.
This story was inspired by a real person, a girl I knew years ago. She would get me involved in long days spent running around looking for people who had to be met, or tying up errands and deals at the last minute. Always looking for excuses to not go home and basically trying to avoid the fate that had been dealt at birth. This relationship gave me the idea for the character of Carmela. The film focuses on that moment when Carmela must, from necessity and her own unconscious desire, leave behind her solitude and her pride; she must open herself to the world and encounter otherness. A "new" otherness, unknown to her and also desperate. Carmela is also something of a “clandestine” in her city, given her chaotic existence, lack of home or role in society, and the fact that she is a mother unable to care for her daughter. This same clandestinity is a condition shared by immigrants and those Italians with no financial resources, little education, few rights and therefore limited life opportunities. This is the social and political context of the story. The point is: are we talking here about people or social problems? In my opinion, no single social problem emerges above others. The problems are all human ones. There is no doubt that we are in an age of decline, of social injustice and creeping dehumanisation – but we all know it and we are not equipped to defend ourselves. So we start from the person, from the people involved in these themes, driven by the need to survive and the struggle for life. Beyond these considerations on the world, what always interests me in my work is the person. In this case it is a woman, who, even in today's world, is all too often confined to the margins. My Carmela, as well as being based on a real person, has resonances in the women depicted in Rosetta by the Dardenne brothers, Adua and Her Friends by Antonio Pietrangeli, Mouchette by Robert Bresson and Vivre sa vie by Jean Luc Godard. But we also see her in Gloria by John Cassavetes, Vagabond by Agnes Varda and Mamma Roma by Pasolini. Women on their own, often bewildered by the circumstances they live in. They are often forced to take drastic and sometimes cruel courses of action, driven by absolute necessity. They are women who struggle, who bring chaos into their lives but who also carry within them a great desire; a confused and yet very present dream – a dream waiting to come true, perhaps in another life. Much of the film is set in Portici, a small but crowded town on the south-east margins of Naples. A prosperous and conservative little town where someone like Carmela, with her particular character and difficulties in coping with life and motherhood, would stand out much more than in a city like Naples where these problems affect very many women and families. For her, the big city is a place of greater opportunity and of escape, a place where people don’t know you and won’t judge you. But it is also a place where you can get lost in the great maelstrom that stifles movement and from which it is impossible to escape unscathed. The footage shot in Portici is more descriptive of the places and environments in which Carmela lives and has lived. It endows the places with a certain heritage and landscape beauty, but one that conveys a strong sense of loneliness.
(Portici Naples, 1971)
After several studies and experiences in architecture and independent bookselling, he dedicates himself to cinema. Beyond his commitment as director, from 2008 to 2016 he collaborates in various workshops and atelier in filmmaking teaching documentary cinema. Film critic and event curator, his documentaries were awarded in several festivals. Rosa pietra stella is his first feature film.
2003 - Decroux e il mimo corporeo - documentary
2004 - La passione Suessana - documentary
2007 - L’ultima Treves – documentary
2008 - In Purgatorio - documentary (photography)
2009 - Corde (Ropes) - documentary
2010 - Napoli 24 (episod in a documentary film)
2012 - La seconda natura (The second nature)- documentary
2014 - Altrove – (Somewhere else) short
2015 - Appunti sulla fine del mondo (Notes about end of the world)- short
2016 - For ever - short
2017 - Perduto amore (Lost love)- short
2018 - Porta Capuana - documentary
2019 - Rosa pietra stella – feature film