a girl in search of her father, a member of the Mafia


Jonas Carpignano, born thirty-eight years ago in New York, lives in Sicily, but his work is rooted in Calabria, more precisely in the town of Gioia Tauro. A work that currently includes three feature films, feverish and magnificent, which come out in the name of documented fiction. Mediterranean (2015), To Ciambra (2017), A Chiara (2022). The first followed the journey, from Africa to Calabria, of two young emigrants from Burkina Faso, who became an orange picker, between the hope of bailing out and racist attacks. The second made Pio Amato, a fiery Roma teenager, whose character is embroiled in traffic of all kinds, go from secondary figure in the previous film to main character.

In this third film, the director favors a new axis opening, like the previous ones, on the tragic intertwining of misery and violence. This axis is that of the Mafia proper, considered however from a particular point of view, that of a girl in search of her father. Chiara, a pampered teenager before being brutally put to the test of life, a young brunette with smoldering eyes, embodies it. We start with a birthday party, that of the big sister, Giulia, 18, in an inn. Clan warmth. Love that circulates. Music that intoxicates. Parents to the angels. Something, however, will very quickly instill a kind of unease, which arouses a suspicion in the viewer’s mind.

Look of hunted beast

The eldest daughter, overjoyed, asks her father, following a few others, to deliver a speech in her honor. He refuses. Out of shyness, one thinks at first. She insists. He slips away again. She insists again, but on the face of the father, at this moment, prints something terrifying. Something between anger and fear, the look of a hunted animal that suggests that the impossibility in question here refers to the existence of another world, another law, tacitly admitted and much more formidable than those given to us to see.

Chiara will never stop seeing him again, confronting him, hearing from his mouth
the naked truth

The whole film is in this shot. More precisely, in the vacillation that it induces between the appearance of a civilized society and the reality of a world subject to infinitely more primitive and brutal rules. Official life versus criminal life. The law of society versus the law of silence. The dignity and power of fathers versus their downfall. Imprecise until then, deliberately vague and diffuse, to the point that one wonders where he is coming from, the film suddenly rushes things and makes them sharp as glass. A few members of the clan, outside the restaurant, are attacked by threatening strangers. Alerted, Claudio, the father, leaves in turn. He gets into a car. Then disappears. The next day, everything seems normal in the household, everyone knowing what to expect. Not Chiara. Chiara is not yet in collusion, in confidence, in the complicity of that world. She just lost her father and doesn’t understand why.

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