Dir: Alessandro Piva. Italy. 2000. 85 mins.
Prod co: Kubla Khan. Co-prod: Munbut. Domestic dist (It): Lucky Red. Int'l sales: Adriana Chiesa Enterprises, (+39 06 8070 400). Prods: Umberto Massa, Valerio Bariletti, Alessandro Piva. Dir: Alessando Piva. Scr: Andrea Piva. DoP: Gianenrico Bianchi. Prod des: Maria Teresa Padula. Eds: Thomas Woschitz, Alessandro Piva. Music: Ivan Iusco. Main cast: Dino Abbrescia (Minuicchio), Mino Barbarese (Pinuccio), Mimmo Mancini (Carrarmato), Dante Marmone (Sabino), Paolo Sassanelli (Pasquale).
Puglia, the depressed southern region in the heel of Italy, was last year's fashionable Italian location: three films on current release were shot there, and others are in the pipeline. The prize for local authenticity has to go to the ultra low-budget LaCapaGira: so impenetrable is the Bari dialect spoken in the film that, outside of Puglia, it has been released with Italian subtitles. The film has been promoted using a combination of word-of-mouth, a surprisingly well-designed website and a targeted limited release designed to make the most of the film's regional appeal.
LaCapaGira is set in the decrepit, dusty city of Bari, Italian port of entry for Albanian refugees, drugs and contraband cigarettes, a trade controlled by local mafia bosses like the flash Carrarmato. The action - though that is hardly the word - alternates between the search for two likeable but incompetent small-time criminals for a white-powder delivery that has been thrown out of a train, and the unutterably seedy inner-city billiard parlour (with rigged video-poker machines out the back) where the consignment was due to be sold.
Though the material and setting might have made for yet another Mafia drama, the Southern fatalism and existential absurdity of the characters set a tone much closer to the rustic surrealism of Sicilian directors Cipri and Maresco. Funky editing and a pounding soundtrack mixing techno with the local tarantella folk tradition add to the film's youth appeal. The film was well received at Berlin, though its international prospects must be slim outside of the extreme arthouse fringe.