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La paranza dei bambini (Piranhas)
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Claudio Giovannesi, Italy

Nicola (Francesco di Napoli) has spent his entire life in Naples and watched weekly how the mafia makes demands of weekly protection money from his mom’s dry cleaning business. All the local shop keepers suffer under this financial burden. But Nicola remembers a time when the head of the mafia was more generous and the people loved him. He dreams of becoming this icon and then he starts making plans. So with age 15, he decides it’s time to step up to the plate with his local gang of friends and become indoctrinated into the Mafia of Naples.

Italian director Claudio Giovannesi co-wrote the screenplay with Roberto Saviano. It is based on the book “The Children’s Parade” written by Roberto Saviano who is also famous for writing a book called “Gomorrah”. It tells of the social- economic realities of territorial disputes which occur under the Camorra crime syndicate in Southern Italy. Giovannesi uses of unprofessional actors among the classic structures of Naples enrich the story while at the same time giving the film a sense of freshness and nativity. The characters seem to be in control over their destiny but in reality they have only one choice and that is to fight. This film is bound to become a classic like the books/films such as Lord of the Flies by William Golding or The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. These boys want to be different but lose themselves in greed and opulence; from gold chains, to drugs, to guns, and fake gold lion statues, they too find themselves lost in the endless cycle of a tyrannical hierarchy where only one can be the God-father kid figure while the others watch with envy.

LA PARANZA DEI BAMBINO (PIRANHAS) seems like an obvious winner of the Silver Bear Best for Screenplay. The complexity of the story reaches out to the modern economic and social problems of Naples. The youth wants change but there is no indication that this will happen. There are so many pitfalls that claim their innocent victims and spit them back out into society as monsters. This tragedy was clearly my favorite from the competition section. I could easily watch this film over and over. It reminded me of THE GOD FATHERand ROMEO AND JUILET all rolled into one with a completely different ending. It was exciting fresh, frightening, brutal and extremely emotional. I am currently reading the New York Bestseller series by the author Elena Ferrante who also describes this complex environment. The one thing that you can’t escape in Naples is your family and your class, no matter how much you try: Blood seems to be thicker than water especially in Naples!