The Italian Jonas Carpignano continues his Calabrian trilogy between fable and documentary, in the footsteps of a teenager who discovers that her father is linked to the local mafia.
According to Mediterranean Sea- (2015) and A Ciambra (2017), Jonas Carpignano continues his work of fictionalizing the small town of Gioia Tauro in Calabria: he is one of those filmmakers who, from film to film, explores the same territory alongside its non-professional residents, to present them in the form of a capturing great fiction. This documentary, which is neither neo nor old realism, is one of the main currents of today’s cinema, one of its attempts to break out of the ruts and impasses of a dying naturalism. It is characterized by the search for a lyricism that would already be present in film and inherent in the real lives it reveals: an attempt to access “all this cinema” that life would contain within itself. A Chiara tells the story of Chiara, a 15-year-old girl who discovers that her family is part of the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, and therefore with resolute steps leads the investigation into the back of their family romance in Gioia and Tauro and its surroundings, through which Ruins of the illusions of his childhood.
All “Theme” films have several, always at least two, sometimes more. The secret subject is added to the pair of manifest subject (here the Calabrian mafia) and real subject (here the family, authentically played by the members of a real family), which can be checked at every turn. The latter is at the same time the least obvious and the most visible, it spreads everywhere, establishes the relationship between things and should remain unspoken in order to have a better effect. In general, cinema is the secret theme of a film, but it seems that this revelation is never enough, that cinema in a film is always the name of something else. In films that belong to the documentary, the secret theme generally lies in the gross or subtle, but always undecidable relationship between what we still call documentary and what we still try to call fiction, categories that have fallen out of use.
At the heart of things
A Chiara has the simplicity of not asking the question anymore, but there is a certain conflict between the long sequence of the celebration of the 18 heart of things, through the fictional basements of the beautiful documentary film festival. This conflict is the engine of the film, its effective formula as well as its sabotage. So the sound acrobatics, all in highs and lows of tension or dreaminess, who hum at the top of their lungs to “make cinema”, permanently sabotage the emotion that they think they are creating and that they didn’t need.
But there are two shocking moments a Chiara, two small fragments that burst out of longer sequences: when the father admits in the documentary party not to tell his daughter in a public speech all the love that obviously overwhelms him – and when, at the end In the labyrinth of the mafia fable emerges the father finally emerged in the fog from the hole in which he was literally hidden. Somewhere in the relationship between these two opposite-toned moments, the film’s secret theme seems to be that it will be up to each or everyone to keep silent, dig, or both.
A Chiara by Jonas Carpignano with Swamy Rotolo, Claudio Rotolo (2h01).