News  ·  10 | 08 | 2023

'Rossosperanza': A Subversive Film About Patriarchal Italy

We sat down with director Annarita Zambrano to talk about the origin of the film and its relation to society today.

© Matias Indjic

Where does Rossosperanza come from?

It is a personal journey that tells the story of people of the time, in 1990, who surrounded me. It is also an allegory. My idea was to make a film against the established power by identifying it with the family that represents the State, while subversion is represented by the children, who are born into power and at the same time turn against it.


As in After the War, another of your films that outline the concept of deviance, of rebellion against established reality.

I am talking about a particular historical moment, 1990, which is very reminiscent of the present. Two years later in Italy there will be a real fall of the gods, before ‘Mani pulite’ (‘Clean Hands’ – a judicial investigation into political corruption, ed.). It came after 40 years of Christian Democracy, of status and accepted morals. For example, in the film there is a television producer who goes with minors, something considered very normal. A very chauvinistic, patriarchal Italy, blind to young people. The Berlin Wall fell the year before and the extent of it did not remotely sink in. Those who have seized power want to keep it. After the Second World War there was the reconstruction of both a small and large bourgeoisie that worked hard to restart the country after the economic boom. Then the people who rebuilt Italy sat back on it. An old political class, inevitably opposed to a wind of modernity linked to sex, abortion, with the cumbersome presence of the Catholic Church. A heavy mantle which is again starting to weigh down in the same way.


In a violent satire against class respectability, the youngsters leave room for tenderness.

The era was certainly not inclusive. In the private but also public schools of Rome, where I grew up, my homosexual friends were "abnormal". I heard so often around me use of the expression "they should be cured". At the time it was normal to say so. The bourgeoisie as a concept encompasses everything, to preserve itself it is willing to sacrifice a deviant element of itself, in order to maintain the majority. This is what happened, and it is back in the news today. The world I saw was distorted by my being "abnormal," even though the others seemed abnormal to me. Obviously, I'm a spectator, as is usual for filmmakers. Directors are often witnesses. To make this reality distorted I shot with 2.35 anamorphic lenses that warp the images and then compress them to 1.85. The idea was that there was a bigger reality for me that was being compressed. I tried to make it cinematically.


It is a film that rings alarm bells about today's society.

There is a deep and very serious reactionary wave taking place in Italy, and not only there. It will touch young people first. For me, cinema serves to shake consciences in any way, even to make people nervous, it doesn't matter. We have experienced dramatic periods in recent years, and I did not want to do something heavy. We have swallowed so much realism in recent years, that I wanted a different story, apparently fake to tell the truth. I felt like laughing a little. It was also fun, we had music and a certain type of drug related to dancing. A freedom of madness that was beautiful, the desire to find each other, friendship, electronic music, which was mine, raves, all night out. Places where everything was possible, where wonderful gaps opened where no one judged you.


At the center there are young people who lived their age freely.

They speak the same language, they found each other, in their alleged madness they understand each other. They are bound by a deep empathy, even if they are crude in their language with each other, while adults are very attentive to their words. They have acquired the violence that surrounds them, they can be cruel to each other, but they belong to each other, they have a jargon that unites them, they do not get angry. Back then, at 15, you entered the adult world and dressed like them. Either you were little or you were an adult. It was not impossible for a 16-year-old girl to date a 40-year-old man. On the one hand there was the desire to be adult which all kids have, on the other the inability to protect their youth.


There is also a tiger among the performers.

It is linked to a true event that took place in Rome. It had run away from the home of the father of someone I knew who collected exotic animals. This fact really struck me, I had then seen her dead when she was captured. Of course, it wasn’t easy to work with a tiger, even if it was good, it did its job. We were all terrified, but in reality, it was lovely, it took a lot to make her look bad. 


Mauro Donzelli