After it premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival last fall, it opened in Italy in March of this year, and also screened in the UK at the Italian Film Festival in London; I only just learned that it screened right here in NYC in June, at the Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series at Film Society (Lincoln Center). Obviously I missed it!
Directed by Guido Lombardi, it’s called Là-bas: A Criminal Education. My limited French tells me that “Là-bas” translates as “over there” in English.
Its synopsis reads:
Castel Volturno, 30 km from Naples. A Camorra commando breaks into a tailor’s shop managed by African immigrants, wildly shooting and killing six black men. Yssouf, a young immigrant, thus decides to break with his uncle Moses, who after promising him a better future in Italy as an honest artisan, turned him into the cynical leader of the local coke-dealing scene. The young Germain, the singer Asetù and the prostitute Suad round out this story blurring fiction and reality, which seems like the pages of a contemporary crime novel on a contemporary man trapped in a daily struggle for survival.
Back to the word “Là-bas” for a moment… essentially, it’s used here to reference Europe (Italy specifically), by the immigrants, who travel there to live, work, hopefully survive or even build fortunes.
The film, which is inspired by real-life events, stars Beninese actor Kader Alassane as Yssouf, Ivorian Moussa Mone as Moses, Beninese/Italian actress Esther Elisha as Suad, and Fatima Traore as Asetù.
Là-bas – A Criminal Education is Guido Lombardi’s first feature film. From his notes:
“… in the Castel Volturno area reside not only 20,000 Africans, at least half of which are clandestine, but also many Italians who have made the same choice. Africans and Italians, blacks and whites, have lived in peace for many years. A peace based on the sharing of business, sometimes as accomplices, where the former are willing to pay the latter a sort of right of way, a “controlled rent”. But this is a fragile peace, subject to terrible short circuits such as occurred on 18 September 2008: six innocent boys slaughtered in a tailor shop. People who just happened to be there, whose death was to serve a mad criminal design to launch a message, a mafia warning. An episode of rare violence, a massacre. Which took place while I was writing my story, with all of its burden of ineluctable destiny.”
The story and trailer intrigue, and I’d like to see the entire film. Too bad I missed its NYC premiere. Here’s hoping it comes back around my way (or yours), again.