Italy’s 2016 Oscar contender to screen in L.A.

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Italy’s Oscar contender is about to make its U.S. premiere. Claudio Caligari’s “Non essere cattivo” (Don’t Be Bad) is in the lineup of “Cinema Italian Style” – LA’s annual showcase of conetemporary Italian cinema. Produced by Luce Cinecittà and the American Cinematheque, and under the artistic director of Italian journalist Laura Delli Colli, the festival is celebrating its 11th year with 11 fantastic, newly released films. See the complete lineup here.

“Non essere cattivo” premiered at this year’s Venice Film Festival and was released shortly thereafter in Italy. Set in the 90’s along the Roman seaside town of Ostia, the story’s focus is on a band of six close friends led by Vittorio and Cesare. Their world is dominated by quick money, nightclubs, crime and drugs. In their early twenties, they are all in search of success and the path to find it. “Non essere cattivo” is a story of overcoming the odds and struggling for a better life in the face of addiction and temptation. But overall, it’s a story of friendship- friends never giving up on each other even in the darkest of days. The director, Claudio Caligari lost his battle to cancer in May at the age of 67. He never got to see the international success of his last film. However, the whole cast and crew is seeing to it that this film will indeed make its mark.

I recently spoke with actor Valentino Campitelli about his role in “Non essere cattivo” and what it was like to work with director Claudio Caligari.

Fra Noi: First, tell me about your character.

Claudio Caligari: My character is one of the guys in the group, a friend of the protagonists Caesar and Vittorio. There are four of us that are a little less than perfect, so our nicknames are Il lungo (Tall), Il corto (short), Il brutto (ugly) and Il grasso (fat). I play Il grasso.

FN: What are Il grasso’s challenges?

CC: Grasso’s biggest challenge was trying to pull off a robbery at a hair salon with his friend and crime partner, Lungo. The whole situation went up in smoke.

FN: What were your challenges as an actor?

CC: Just being in wardrobe carrying out a scene like that robbery was a huge challenge for me. Then there were the tight timetables in shooting and just working with a maestro like Caligari and two of the best young actors working in Italy today- Luca Marinelli and Alessandro Borghi.

FN: Do you have a favorite scene?

CC: My favorite scene is definitely the scene in which Vittorio has a vision. After popping some pills, he sees a bus with colorful people in the middle of the street. Another scene that I hold close to my heart is a scene that takes place in the bathroom where Vittorio finds Linda snorting cocaine. The interpretations done by Alessandro Borghi and Roberta Mattei are truly EXCEPTIONAL.

FN: What do you think of the worldwide success of the film?

CC: Well I have many thoughts on the success of this film and they vary day by day. I keep thinking about Claudio and what he did for Italian cinema in general, telling a new and different story, and using cinema as a tool to communicate. I can’t help but think of my life after being a part of an Oscar-winning film.. but then my superstition kicks in. I am very much impressed by everything, everything that has happened, and has yet to happen. Claudio changed my life for the better, and I owe it to everyone that has been part of this wonderful journey.

FN: And speaking of Claudio Caligari and this being his last film, tell me about your experience working with him.

CC: It was a fantastic experience, that before this film, I couldn’t even imagine. Claudio was an artist who achieved a great level of respect. Although at times, he was misunderstood. While we were shooting, I felt this film under my skin. It was an extraordinary feeling that never happened to me before. Now, I owe so much to the master.

If you’re in LA, “Non essere cattivo” will be shown Thursday, November 12 at 6:30 PM at the Egyptian Theater. Click here for tickets.

Check out the trailer at

About Jeannine Guilyard

Jeannine Guilyard is a longtime correspondent for Fra Noi and the Italian-American community newspaper in Rochester, N.Y. She has also contributed to the Italian Tribune of New Jersey, Italian Tribune of Michigan and L'Italo Americano of Southern California. Jeannine wrote and directed the short film "Gelsomina," which was selected for the Screenings Program of the 59th Venice Film Festival, and she won Emmy and Peabody awards as an editor of ABC's "Special Report" following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Jeannine is also a writer and editor for Italian Cinema Today, a publication and blog she founded in 2005 to bridge culture between New York and Italy. Follow her on Instagram at Italianartcinema and on Twitter at @ItaloCinema2day.

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