Emerging Italian helmer Claudio Giovannesi, who made a splash in Berlin with his prizewinning Neapolitan teen mob drama “Piranhas,” is set to direct immigration epic “Vita,” set in New York’s early 20th century Little Italy.
Based on Melania Mazzucco’s novel by the same title, winner of Italy’s prestigious Strega Prize, “Vita” is set in 1903 when two kids, a girl named Vita and a boy named Diamante, disembark alone in New York.
“Vita,” which means life in Italian, is grounded in authentic documentation, based on the true story of Mazzucco’s ancestors. The book was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the U.S.
From the extreme poverty of Italy’s rural south the two kids “are thrust in a modern, chaotic and hostile metropolis. Like all other Italian immigrants, in order to survive they have to work hard in Little Italy: a fierce neighborhood dominated by the Mano Nera, the early Italian-American Mafia,” according to the film’s synopsis.
In their daily battle to find their place in the world, they discover friendship and love, but also the solitude and violence of immigration. “Their journey is the collective revolutionary dream of a young people striving to improve their condition,” the synopsis says.
Giovannesi, whose “Piranhas” won the 2019 Berlin Silver Bear for best screenplay, is co-writing the “Vita” adaptation with Maurizio Braucci, who also worked on “Piranhas,” and with Massimo Gaudioso, whose credits include the feature “Gomorrah.”
“Vita,” which will be spoken in various Italian dialects and and in Italian-American slang, is being produced by Italy’s Indiana Production (“Human Capital,” “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” Netflix’s “Curon”) in collaboration with Vision Distribution, the company jointly formed by Comcast-owned Sky Italia and five Italian production shingles. The plan is to start shooting “Vita” in either 2022 or 2023.
“The ambition is to realistically reconstruct this world and depict Italians when they were immigrants,” Giovannesi told Variety. “The reason I accepted to do this film is because it resonates today. The condition of rootlessness and marginalization that Italians lived in those days is analogous to that of immigrants in Italy today. This is something that many Italians have removed from their consciousness.”