Io non ho paura



It's 1978. The hottest summer in a century. Everything in the tiny village of Acque Traverse seems motionless, dormant: school's out, the adults hide indoors to escape the heat, which smothers all. Only a small group of children moves freely around the town and the surrounding countryside, playing games and venturing off.

During one of these jots about, little Michele, nine years old, comes across an incredible secret: the town's "grown-ups" are holding a child - just around Michele's own age - captive in a pit within an abandoned house. What is it that they want to do with him? Why does no one in town speak of it? How is it that Michele's own parents are involved in this strange event?

Michele will find himself all alone in confronting these terrible circumstances, which will change his life forever, marking the end of his infancy and the discovery of an unknown courage.

Director's Statement

The very title tells us that the story is told in the first person. That person is a child, and his eyes tell the story of the world in which he lives. We, therefore, need to position our eyes (the camera) at the same level as the protagonist's; that is, tell the story at a height of around 1 metre and 30 centimetres.
In film, framing from above establishes an objective, distant point of view; it leaves us less involved in the action, to act more as observers rather than protagonists.
Framing from the bottom, an the other hand, makes us feel more involved in what is happening, even if it is not our usual point of seeing reality.
This fact may be due to our visual memory: we do not have the experience of seeing things from above, but we know the world well as seen from below, for this is the way we observed it as children.
Above and below. Inside and out. Emerged and submerged. Visible and invisible. Big and small. Two worlds in confrontation, at times one incomprehensible to the other and frequently seeing the same thing in different ways.
A golden-yellow wheat field, warm and welcoming, can hide many things. Beneath its surface of meter-high stalks, secrets and dangers, along with unknown forms of life, may be hidden. Day and night, lightness and darkness. Black and gold are the colours of this film.
Children as actors. When children play, they often say, "Let's make believe that I was the cowboy and you were the Indian." The use of the past ("I was") is not a mistake. By saying it this way, it is as if they negate the possibility of pretending to be or playing something they do not know.
If I must interpret the cowboy and do it well, I must go back to some experience in my past. Therefore I have already been a cowboy (memories, stories, films, comics), and now I'm going to show you just how. Let's make believe that I was ...

No falseness is allowed. We need only to win over the children's trust and not betray it. Children already know everything, including the most difficult things of all: pain and detachment.
If you are closed up in a hole and those you love do not come to pull you out, if your world has become only walls of mud, dirt and darkness, you may start to think you are dead. You need a guardian angel to come and show you that outside the sun and air are still there and that life continues.
Solidarity, the strength to conquer the fear of what is different, understanding that we are one and the same, pietas, the joy of discovering that you are the same as someone else -all there things are difficult to experience in the world we live in today, as it is a world bent an uniqueness and diversity. Nowadays, it is also difficult to say, "I'm not scared!".
A place in the South. Hot. A desert of wheat. Nothingness. Nothing to do, nothing to see. A no-man's land, a desolate place where one can see things that do not exist, where reality is confused with fantasy.
The place lives more in the mind than in the physical, to be found within our memory. In any case, it is a place where nature is the stage, and the animal world is the protagonist. Prey and predator - the old, cruel Story.
540 children auditioned. All from that strange, forgotten land between the Basilicata and Puglia regions. With their language, gestures and glances, they are all protagonists in an epic tale created from discoveries, fears, disobedience and solidarity. These children, born in a forgotten South, are invisible to our eyes, which have been too filled with heroes and heroines.
Why should John Wayne be the only one with a right to epic framing?
And the film's music? Niccolò Ammaniti suggested strings - a good suggestion. A string quartet that is not intrusive but leaves it mark, like the wind in a wheat field. The film is, in some ways, a thriller, and strings work well to heighten tension.

Director's Biography

Gabriele Salvatores was born in Naples in 1950 and lives in Milan where, in 1972, he founded the "Teatro dell'Elfo", which in a remarkably short span of time became a reference point for a generation of young theatre-goers. Today the "Teatro dell'Elfo" is considered one of the most important theatrical entities in Italy. Over the years Salvatores has directed 21 plays for his brainchild, many of which have enjoyed wide acclaim and success in Italy. In 1981 he produced a rock-musical based on a "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which played to record audiences totalling more than 200,000 people. In the following year the show became Salvatores's first feature film, which was recognized at the 1983 Venice Film Festival.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Gabriele Salvatores

Written by: Niccolo Ammaniti, Francesco Marciano

Cinematography: Italo Petriccione

Editing: Massimo Fiocchi

Production Design: Giancarlo Basili

Costume Design: Patrizia Chericoni, Florence Emir

Original Score: Pepo Scherman, Ezio Bosso

Cast: Aitana Sanchez-Gijon (Anna), Dino Abbrescia (Pino), Diego Abatantuono (Sergio), Giuseppe Cristiano (Michele), Mattia di Pierro (Filippo)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Cinematographer – Prix Carlo Di Palma 2003
  • Feature Film Selection 2003