16 July 2018 | Radu_A
The first realistic film about Romani life
Almost a sequel to American director Jonas Carpignanos' multi-prize winning "Mediterraneo", "A Ciambra" succeeds at something every European director has failed to do so far: To give a realistic, non-judgmental portrait of Romani life, in following 14-year-old Pio Amato's rapid coming-of-age process. Pio already appeared in "Mediterraneo", as did his refugee friend (Koudous Seihon), who was the principal character.
As you can tell from another review here, the attitude towards Sinti and Roma is to this day extremely racist and completely ignorant of the fact that they have been living in Italy for 600 years (Pio's surname is Sinti, i.e. his family has not migrated from the East). In Italian film, gypsies are always thieves and / or murderous psychopaths, "Suburra" and "Jeeg Robot" being the most notorious recent examples. By just reenacting Romani life, "A Ciambra" succeeds in showing how this racist exclusion of Roma (and refugees) creates exactly what it justifies itself with: a marginalized sub-society which perceives the law as hostile, and therefore resorts to crime as a means of survival and defiance. And in this dog-eats-dog world, family is both the only reliable safety net, and the biggest hindrance to an honest living - the film does a good job showing that.
If it's not a masterpiece, then because Carpignano adds nothing to this bleak outlook. There's not a shred of hope for Pio's future, and while this is realistic, it also doesn't give the audience much to work with.