I added this film late to make up my 50 films and because I had a morning with no films booked. It looked like a light one, part of the Next Gen program aimed at teens and so there were the usual rows of uniformed school kids in front of me. It’s an Italian film and is set in the down-at-heel suburb of Falchera on the outskirts of Torino but it’s not really about Italians, it’s about Romani, or gypsies as we might know them.
The story centres around an engaging 18-year-old Romani, Gioia whose traditional family has moved from the relative freedom of a camp near Bra to the greater comfort of a tiny high-rise apartment in Falchera. At 18, Gioia is practically ‘on the shelf’ and should have been married off to a good Romani boy by now. Like Sabrina Fairchild, she wants to learn how to live, to be “in the world and of the world and not just stand aside and watch” but like Sabrina she must contend with a daunting class divide, for her between Romani and gadjos (everyone else). Her parents try to match her up with a suitable boy, eventually realising that they must find someone who will understand and support her ‘modern ideas’. Without their knowledge, she has become enamoured of film and dreams of directing, emulating her hero, Woody Allen.
This is a sweet film, comedic, sometimes sentimental but with a thread that slyly contrasts the prejudice of the gadjos against the warmth and authenticity of Romani culture and family. Unlike Sworn Virgin, it shows that a patriarchal culture that truly reveres family will find a way to protect and nurture every member.