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Amelio says new film great gay love story

On Braibanti Affair, Bonino face shows importance of Radicals

(ANSA) - ROME, SEP 6 - Italian director Gianni Amelio said at the Venice Film Festival Tuesday his new film Il Signore delle Formiche (The Lord of the Ants), the fourth of five Italian contenders for the Golden Lion to be presented, was a great gay love story.
    Calabria-born Amelio, 77, who won the Golden Lion with The Way We laughed in 1998 and only came out as gay himself on the presentation of his 2014 documentary Happy to be Different, said the film recounted the case of Aldo Braibanti, a gay Emilian poet,writer and playwright who was accused of having taken psychological advantage of a young student who at his family's wishes underwent electric-shock therapy and time in a psychiatric hospital.
    Braibanti ended up on trial and was sentenced to nine years in 1968.
    The affair, and the vibrant protests it engendered, became a major cause celebre of the time.
    "I love this film," said Amelio, whose other acclaimed films include Blow to the Heart (1982), I ragazzi di via Panisperna (1987), Open Doors (1989), The Stolen Children (1992), Lamerica (1994), The Keys to the House (2004), The Missing Star (2006), The First Man (2011), L'intrepido (2013), Tenderness (2017), and Hammamet (2020).
    "I'm not happy, though," he went on, "not for this work which I think is one of my best but for private things of mine, for a love affair I lived on the set, very tormented.
    "Perhaps the film benefited from this, I discovered the same fragilities of the protagonist.
    "In short, its about the Braibanti Case, but above all the love between a man and a boy, and it became very autobiographical".
    In the film, with Luigi Lo Cascio in the role of the intellectual of Fiorenzuola d'Arda (Piacenza), the debuting Leonardo Maltese as young Ettore, a made-up name because his family did not give permission for his real name to be used, and Elio Germano as Ennio, a journalist from Communist daily l'Unità who becomes gripped by the trial and wants to recount it without censorship, there also appears at a certain point during the protests of the young Graziella (Sara Serraiocco), the face of Radical leader Emma Bonino today.
    "She was not even in the Radical party at that time, she told me," Amelio explained, "but I preferred her face to that of a bit player with the image of (late Radical leader) Marco Pannella, I was interested in showing how important they were in Italy, how much courage they had, and it is thanks to the Radical Party that the crime of taking psychological advantage of someone ('plagio') was abolished in 1981." The honorary president of Arcigay, Franco Grillini, was also present at the screening at the Lido.
    "The gay question has not been resolved," he said to applause from Amelio.
    "All you have to think about is the disgraceful applause in the Senate when they stopped the Zan bill (which would have made anti-gay sentiment an aggravating factor in gay hate crimes)".


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