Opening 22 Aug 2019
Writing credits: Roberto Saviano, Claudio Giovannesi, Maurizio Braucci
Principal actors: Francesco Di Napoli, Viviana Aprea, Mattia Piano Del Balzo, Ciro Vecchione, Ciro Pellechia
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. At 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-worte the screenplay with Roberto Saviano. It is based on the book The Children’s Parade written by Saviano who is also famous for the book Gomorrah which tells of the social, economic realities of territorial disputes under the Camorra crime syndicate in Southern Italy. Giovannesi’s unprofessional actors among the classic structures of Naples enrich the story, giving the film a sense of freshness and nativity. The characters seem to be in control of their destiny; in reality they have one choice and that is to fight. This film is bound to become a classic like 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.
Piranhas won the Silver Bear Best for Screenplay at the 2019 Berlinale. 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 in the competition section. It reminded me of The God Father and Romeo and Juliet all rolled into one with a completely different ending. It was excitingly fresh, frightening, brutal, and extremely emotional. The one thing that you can’t escape in Naples is your family and your class. Blood seems to be thicker than water, especially in Naples!! (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)