Independent filmmaker Jonas Carpignano will soon bow his next feature — “A Ciambra,” inspired by his short of the same name — at the festival that helped explode his very promising career. Carpignano’s ambitious “Mediterranea” premiered at Cannes in 2015 as part of the Critics’ Week lineup, where the intimate look at the refugee situation in Italy earned him major accolades and made it clear he was one to watch.
Carpignano returns to the festival with another feature that explores misunderstood and complex communities by blending fact and fiction — this time around, the Romani people of Europe. Spinning off his 2014 short, the film follows young Pio Amato (who also starred in the short and appeared in “Mediterranea”) as he comes off age through a series of upheavals.
Per the film’s official synopsis: “In ‘A Ciambra,’ a small Romani community in Calabria, Pio Amato is desperate to grow up fast. At 14, he drinks, smokes and is one of the few to easily slide between the region’s factions – the local Italians, the African refugees and his fellow Romani. Pio follows his older brother Cosimo everywhere, learning the necessary skills for life on the streets of their hometown. When Cosimo disappears and things start to go wrong, Pio sets out to prove he’s ready to step into his big brother’s shoes but soon finds himself faced with an impossible decision that will show if he is truly ready to become a man.”
The film is the first one to be produced under Martin Scorsese’s as-yet-unnamed fund to help emerging filmmakers, which is debuting at the festival this year. The new fund is a partnership between Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff’s Sikelia Productions and Brazil-based RT Features.
Carpignano’s first feature was nominated for both the Critics Week Grand Prize and the Golden Camera at Cannes. It also enjoyed a very healthy awards season run, picking up three Indie Spirit Award nominations (including Best First Feature) and a pair of Gotham nods, with Carpignano ultimately winning the 2015 Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award at the annual event.
When we spoke to him in 2015 about the film, he emphasized his strong desire to bring true humanity to the big screen. “The whole point of making the film was hopefully to make people stop talking about the topic like a topic. The general idea is they are actual human beings we’re talking about right now,” he explained. That attitude appears to have carried over to his “A Ciambra.”
Check out our exclusive poster for “A Ciambra” below.
The Cannes Film Festival runs May 17 – 28.