Claudio Giovannesi’s story of “Daphne goes to Juvie” has been described by almost everyone else as a coming of age story, and I suppose “coming of age” means slightly different things to different people, but in my opinion, Fiore is not one of those movies.
Though the film covers events that occur throughout months, Fiore feels more like a portrait, a snapshot, or chapter 3 in a book read independently, without ever having read chapters one and two and never having a chance to know the ending. In it, a teenager named Daphne is pretty much alone in the world and getting by stealing cellphones by robbing people at knifepoint. It was only a matter of time before she’s caught and sent to a juvenile detention center.
“It’s not really a coming of age story, because at the end of the story no one has really grown or changed,” director Giovannesi explained. But this story of what he calls “forbidden love” bursts with and humanity and reminds us all what it means to be young.
Even if we didn’t spend our youth in a juvenile detention center.
“It’s important for me to approach the characters from their own points of view”, says Giovanessi. I want to show empathy and no judgement for my characters.
Giovannesi, who spent six months (!!!) in a juvenile detention center to prepare for this film (seriously, suffering for art), says that a normal day in a juvenile detention center is pretty much exactly like it is in the film. And one of the stars in the film, Josciua Algeri, could probably have attested to this, but tragically he died in a traffic accident just a year after his film’s Cannes Film Festival premiere.
Giovannesi auditioned over 1000 young men before he settled on Algeri, who had spent 3 years in juvie, studying acting to improve himself during his incarceration.
“I took a plane twice in my life”, Josciua said at a press conference for Fiore. “The first time it was to the Juvenile Detention Center in Palermo, and the second time it was to the premiere of Fiore at the Cannes Film Festival.”
His co-star, Daphne Scoccia, never did any time herself, but apparently it wasn’t for lack of trying. “She was close to that life”, Giovannesi told me. She was a waitress when I found her.”
Neither Scoccia nor Algeri had acted in a movie before and I wondered, “Is it difficult to direct when you have to be an acting coach at the same time?”
“You just have to find a balance”, Giovannesi told me. “Acting is a natural talent and you either have it or you don’t. You want people who don’t see the camera.”
It’s all about reality for this director, who explained to me something I’d never given any thought to.
“A lot of Italian directors start out making documentaries, and then move on to fiction and feature films, remembering that reality.”
The Nastro D’Argento nominations have just been announced and Fiore is up for BEST FILM.