The «Demigods» message of beauty and humanity. Reggio director Fabio Mollo speaks


By John

Stories of the South with universal value, between artistic and human heritage, for two recent directions by Fabio Mollo from Reggio, who in recent months brought the documentary «Semidei» to the cinemamade with Alessandra Cataleta and written by the director with Armando Maria Trotta, Giuseppe Smorto and Massimo Razzi for the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Riace Bronzes, and the film «Born for you», about the true story of Luca Trapanese, the first single man in Italy to have adopted a newborn baby (with Down's Syndrome). Two jewels that Mollo presented again – with great enthusiasm from the public – in as many screenings at the Fasola Auditorium of the Apollo Multiplex in Messina.

Presented at the Giornate degli Autori in Venice, produced by Palomar with the support of the Calabria Region and the Calabria Film Commission, «Semidei» – shot entirely in Calabria and specifically between Reggio, Riace, Roccella, Gioia Tauro and Monasterace – retraces half a century of history by telling the two mysterious warriors who re-emerged from the sea of ​​Riace in 1972, after two thousand years spent underwater. The focus is on the meaning of the statues in the present and future. «The intent was twofold: to tell the importance of the discovery and restoration of the Bronzes from an archaeological point of view and to reflect on the importance of the statues over time, in the past, today and in the future».

But is it possible to capture the present and future in statues from 2,500 years ago? Mollo suggests: «To answer this question we have reversed the point of view: it is not us who look at the Bronzes but they who look at us. And when they look at us, what do they see? Starting from here we tried to tell through real stories what the Bronzes are, but also Calabria and Italy today.”

Known and studied throughout the world, the two warriors are bearers of living and current meanings. «I discovered that they were made to send a message of peace against fratricidal wars, valid in past centuries in Argos as today. While we were making the film, the war in Ukraine was raging, the war in Gaza was starting and the Cutro shipwreck occurred during editing. It is not known where they come from and how they came to us, but I do not think it is a coincidence that they arrived in Calabria in the 70s, after the civil war in Reggio, because they not only remind us of the richness of our past, but also that of the present, our human richness, demonstrated precisely by events like that of Cutro: a tragedy that becomes a measure of solidarity and human participation”.

After the Venetian welcome, «Semidei» was included in the top five of the Nastro d'Argento for the documentary (Cinema, Entertainment, Culture section) and among the 15 titles competing for the 2024 David di Donatello – Cecilia Mangini Award for best documentary. «We didn't know if combining art cinema and documentary could work, until in Venice we understood how a story, even a local one, can reach everyone from such a prestigious stage. Nastri and David were two nice surprises, for the desire to reward an experimental documentary like ours.”

Another kind of emotion is the film «Born for you», from the book of the same name by Luca Trapanese with Luca Mercadante (Einaudi). «I learned about Luca and Alba's story by reading it in the newspapers and when work on the film with Cattleya began I went to Naples to get to know Luca and Alba and their story in a more intimate way». An important narrative challenge for an extraordinary story that affects the director closely. «My sister is my sister thanks to an adoption – she says –; so I experienced firsthand the beauty of the gesture of adopting, which should be supported and rewarded. For this reason I tried to convey the story of Luca and Alba in the most authentic way, without making it a story full of anger, despite it being the feeling I have towards a country that does not allow you to become a parent if you are not married. But Luca and Alba taught me that in reality it is possible to transform the impossible into the possible, even without anger.”

To enter the world of Trapanese, Mollo and the protagonist Pierluigi Gigante worked as operators in his community «Free Wheel». «This experience convinced me to shoot part of the story in the community with the disabled children that Luca takes care of, as well as making me understand the essence of the film itself, which talks about families, rights, but mainly about disability, a taboo subject both in society as well as in cinema”.

After arriving at festivals in countries such as Kenya, Japan and Holland, the international journey of the two films will continue in various foreign events. Just today Mollo will be in Nice for the 38th Journées du Cinéma Italien, days of contemporary Italian cinema where «Born for you» is in competition.