A Ciambra (2018)
With the energy of Ma’ Rosa and paced like Good Time, Jonas Carpignano follows up his refugee drama Mediterranea with a sequel of sorts in A Ciambra. A Romani family, a settled community of gypsies, is always under police watch. Loosely supervised children, raised into crime communities, show a not-so-promising future for this family. Pio, a fourteen year old chasing after his older brother’s jobs, finds himself as the head of the family after his father and brother are caught for robbery. Chasing after ways to pay off their fines, Pio enlists Ayiva, a carryover from Mediterranea, in pawning his family’s stability.
Fast paced, though dark and shaky, feels personal. Filled with members of Pio Amato’s family, this film’s authenticity in the family interaction pairs well with the struggle. There’s real feeling between Pio and his mother. He demonstrates great desperation in his search for a score, and Carpignano delivers spectacular control in the frantic times. The writer-director exposes the casualties of gaining responsibilities and the consequences of the actions. With a moral compass coming from refugee Ayiva (Koudous Seihon), he’s steered toward avoiding familial mistakes. Seihon possesses sensibilities lacking in the rest of the cast. Ayiva denounces the crimes as he enables Pio’s pursuits. His contention blends with the immigrant experience meeting the struggle of a native lower class. There’s inherent fear and mistrust for otherness, and A Ciambra does not shy away from the family’s feelings toward the non-Romani neighbors. Carpignano can chase his way around train heists and maneuver through a tender, semi-brotherly, semi-loving relationship between misunderstood neighbors. I’ll need to catch Mediterranea and get the prequel story, but even on its own, A Ciambra stands as an intimate tale of growth and poverty.