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I'm Not Scared

Secrets. Betrayal. Murder. 

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from I'm Not Scared

Ok, so there's a kid, in Southern Italy during the 1970s right? He finds a hole while he and his friends are wandering around an abandoned house. In this hole there's another kid, covered in a blanket. You still with me? And so this one kid befriends the other, and in doing so learns more than he ever wanted to know about life, love, greed and trust.

It's not a pitch that would cut mustard in Hollywood, I suspect. Luckily then, it fell to the director of the lush, lyrical Mediterraneo, Gabriele Salvatores to bring to light this tale of fear and redemption, and endow it with a sense of nostalgia and pain that is curiously reminiscent of Spielberg's Empire of the Sun. Like Empire, this movie makes much of its setting – acres upon acres of arable land parched by the burning sun, which nevertheless fails to expose the crimes that have been deeply hidden within the heart of the small community.

This task instead falls to nine-year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano), whose incomprehension, childish fetishism and burgeoning sense of responsibility are perfectly conveyed in a stunning performance. As Michele realises the boy he has found is more than just an occasional friend, and he begins to take on the position of hopeful saviour and liberator, a slowly burning and growing sense of maturity and understanding of the fallibility of man begins to dawn on him, and it's a devastating sight to see.

The movement from idyllic innocence to tragic understanding provides the raison d'être of this wonderful film. With the imprisonment, its uncovering, the performances (particularly of the two young children) and the film's pounding heart, Io Non Ho Paura is a deftly crafted, deeply affecting and lyrical minor triumph, and deserves uncovering.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)