Director Susanna Nicchiarelli returns to the Lido in competition with a non-traditional biopic focusing on the founder of the order of the Badesses who collaborated with Francesco D’Assisi
Francesco di Liliana Cavani with Mickey Rourke and Helena Bonham Carter and the musical as Hair or Jesus Christ Superstar. The musical humanism of the Anonima Frottolosi ensemble and the piece by Cosmo “The rarest things”. The miracle of Saint Scholastica and the canticle of songs. Susanna Nicchiareli is not afraid to dare. In Chiara, presented in competition at the Festival, the director mixes the most diverse worlds and atmospheres. So after Nico (Orizzonti Award for best film at the 74th Venice International Film Festival) and Miss Marx, competing in 2019, the filmmaker brings to the Lido a new chapter of her cinematography dedicated to strong but not too studied female figures , because they were overshadowed by the male characters they collaborated with. And the work adopts an even more experimental and daring style than previous films. From the language spoken by the protagonists, to the musical glances, up to the sung sequences. In short, we are facing a non-conformist film, likewise the historical character who gives the title to the film.
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Chiara is a work that is aimed at everyone, even non-believers. The biopic is not similar to those holy cards that are usually kept in the wallet. The saint becomes an ante-litteram feminist, closer to an eighteen-year-old of the seventies than to a nun of the thirteenth century. Nonetheless, the film made use of the advice of Chiara Frugoni, the famous medievalist who died in April and to whom the film is dedicated.
“And as reported by Frugoni Chiara of Assisi was the first woman to write an original rule for women, refusing to decline a pre-existing masculine rule to the feminine: an amazing rule, full of sweetness, aimed at understanding rather than judging and punish (…) Contrary to what she would have liked, she was forced into seclusion, but her solitude was inhabited by many affections and by a very strong spiritual tension. “
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Between the loaves and the injera, the typical bread of many regions of Africa, between the Umbrian pinoccata with chicken with its entrails, Chiara is a work in which food becomes a sort of viaticum to share a good thing with others and to break down the differences. But the film is above all a joyful hymn to sisterhood. The protagonist (played by Margherita Mazzucco La Lena from the TV series the brilliant friend) could not carry out any of her projects without the help of the other nuns, among which the characters played by Carlotta Natoli and Paola Tiziana Cruciani stand out. The male part of the cast instead sees Andrea Carpenzano (the star of the Lovely Boy trap presented last year at the Mostra) wearing the habit and sandals of San Francesco D’Assisi. The young actor with his timeless face and the thinness of ascetics, with his instinctive and untamed talent is credible like Luigi Lo Cascio who plays Cardinal Ugolini, future pope with the name of Gregory XVI.
In short, Nicchiarelli signs a song of songs in a female key that looks to the cinema of Roberto Rossellini, but also to the punk of Derek Jarman’s early works. And it is a beautiful and intrepid challenge to talk about miracles, spirituality and revolution in the current film landscape.