Contemporary World Cinema

A Ciambra

Jonas Carpignano

Acambria 01

Jonas Carpignano’s coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy in a Romani community in southern Italy who is eager to prove he can be a man and is thrust into adulthood when his brother goes missing.

Those familiar with the crafty, preteen con man from Mediterranea will recognize the young Pio in Jonas Carpignano's follow-up feature, A Ciambra, another unadorned and energetic look at life in a Romany family situated in a poor region of southern Italy. This rough-and-ready, highly naturalistic film takes no prisoners, and Carpignano, as in his first film, uses a cast of non-professionals to great effect. Verisimilitude is in abundance as we rub up against the gritty reality lived by the Amato family.

Presided over by Pio's mother, the family eats, argues, fights, and jostles its way through a life that is tough and unforgiving. Living in a scrappy hamlet of misshapen shacks, the men of the family are forever in trouble, while the long-suffering women must make do. Pio's role model in all this is his older brother, who brings in cash through car theft and random burglaries. While Cosimo brushes his younger brother away as if he is an annoying gnat, Pio is determined to prove that he has arrived and is ready to take his place with the other men in the community. Living by his wits, watching the world carefully through sharp eyes, Pio soon reaches out and befriends an older man, a migrant from Burkina Faso (also present in Mediterranea).

With its free-form narrative and atmospheric tone, A Ciambra grabs hold of and disarms you though raw vitality and adherence to stark reality.

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