Italian filmmaker Mario Martone is set for a Venice return later this month with some familiar material: a new feature film based on the classic play “The Mayor of Rione Sanità” by Eduardo De Filippo, the kind of story that combines Martone’s love of complex Neapolitan crime stories with the age-old battle between good and evil. Martone is a frequent player at Venice, and has previously screened films like “Noi credevamo,” “Leopardi,” and “Capri-Revolution” at the annual festival.
The competition entry is inspired by the De Filippo play of the same name, though the playwright’s work is best known to movie lovers for another adaptation it inspired: Vittorio De Sica’s 1964 Sophia Loren-starring “Marriage Italian Style,” which was based on the play “Filumena Marturano.” The material is a natural fit for Martone, who has often crafted films about the people of his native Naples forced to deal with issues regarding crime, power, and loyalty.
Per the film’s official synopsis: “Antonio Barracano is a ‘man of honor’ who distinguishes between ‘decent people and scoundrels’; he is called ‘The Mayor’ of the Rione Sanità, one of the most troubled neighborhoods in Naples. Using his charismatic influence and with the help of an ambiguous doctor, he administers justice according to his personal criteria, beyond the law and above the parties. Those who have the right connections take advantage of it, and those who don’t, go to Don Antonio, this is the rule.”
Yet even Antonio is thrown for a loop “when Rafiluccio Santaniello, the baker’s son, goes to The Mayor and tells him that he wants to kill his father, [and] Don Antonio recognizes in the young man the same feeling of revenge that obsessed him when he was younger and changed him forever. The Mayor decides to intervene to reconcile father and son and try to save them both.”
The film stars Francesco Di Leva, Massimiliano Gallo, and Roberto De Francesco. It was produced by Indigo Film with Rai Cinema and Malìa. International sales will be handled by True Colours. It will premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival later this month, and will be in the running for the Golden Lion. Check out the first trailer for “The Mayor of Rione Sanità,” exclusively on IndieWire, below.