Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Enrico Lo Verso, Michele Placido, Piro Milkani, Carmelo Di Mazzarelli, Elida Janushi
Director: Gianni Amelio
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Upstaging the neorealist masterworks of Rossellini and Bertolucci, Gianni Amelio?s Lamerica triumphs. A visually arresting tale of moral conflict and the journey that leads to atonement, Lamerica has been hailed by critics... more »
A Tale of Hope and Freedom Amidst Poverty & Swindlers
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 01/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After Communism is overthrown in the 1990s Albania falls into a state of destitution and many of her citizens are in a state of despair. The majority are poor and many attempt to flee across the sea to Italy. Television programs reveal a wealthy economy there. The hope for a better life spurs many to risk their own when crossing the borders and challenging the odds of gettiing caught. The black and white film footage in the beginning shows a historical background of how Albania survived World War II by replacing fascism with communism which held great promise for a better life that never materialized. The surreal circumstances of the past haunts this mountainous country as it mirrors the problems which face the population in the 1990s.
The demise of communism holds no better future for the majority of Albanians. One small Albanian restaurant owner harkens back to the communist past when things were better, food was plentiful, there were not shortages. It is under these circumstances that Fiore, an Italian businessman, and Gino his partner arrive in Albania to exploit the people and set up a phony factory allegedly to help the Albanian economy. They meet a few corrupt Albanian officials whom they bribe to expedite the complex paperwork. They also visit a concentration camp to find an unlikely Albanian candidate to become the "chairman" of their business - who will likely become the fall guy when the business fails ...
Gino played by Enrico Lo Verso is a young ambitious Italian business partner to Fiore. Gino takes care of Spiro, the Albanian man selected as chairman. Spiro signs a few legal papers top start things rolling but is needed later for more paperwork when the transactions are finalized. He is dressed in a fine suit and accompanied by Gino on a road-trip to an orphanage run by Catholic nuns from the order of Mother Theresa. He is placed there for safe-keeping until needed again to sign legal forms. Spiro is a sorrowful character. He had been a twenty year old Italian who was conscripted to fight for Albania during World War II, yet all his internal paperwork reveals him to be an Albanian citizen. However, his mind is lost in the past even though he functions with great survival instincts and has a good heart. He wants to return to his village in Sicily to see Rose his wife and their three or four year old son. Spiro had escaped his confinement in the orphanage and had returned to a vagabond life, dressing in his old clothes, trying to find his way back home. The adventure of finding Spiro becomes a nightmare for Gino. In poverty-stricken Albania, Gino parked his SUV in order to relieve his bladder only to discover the vehicle is stripped of its tires and every workable part is removed. Both he and Spiro are forced to take local bus transportation back to Tirana. Along the way, they stop at a run-down hotel where Gino gets a phone call that devastates him. All the delays have created difficulties and Fiore has fired both the chairman and Gino.
Next, the Albanian authorities are investigating these Italian business profiteers and their motives. Gino is arrested and his passport confiscated. The remainder of the film deals with how Gino reclaims his life after such a fall from a rather charmed life. He narrowly escapes from jail and joins the throngs of Albanians who manage to escape their homeland seeking freedom abroad. Gino's views about life and humanity change forever ... This is a very engaging film which opens the eyes of the viewer to new perspectives. Erika Borsos (pepper flower)
Abject poverty in Albania sets the scene for a fine story
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 11/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This award winning 1994 Italian film is sometimes hard to watch. The landscape is Albania in the early 90s, a country that had been first invaded by Mussolini and then kept subjugated by totalitarian rule until the recent breakup of communism. This leaves it open for two Italian racketeers to try to set up a bogus shoe factory. Problem is they need an Albanian to be chairman. And so they find an old man who they can call "chairman" and will sign all the proper papers.Things get a little out of hand, when the old man, played by Carmelo DiMazzarelli, runs away. The younger racketeer, Enrico Lo Verson, goes out to look for him. What follows is a deeply moving drama set against the backdrop of the abject poverty in Albania. Here, almost everyone is a refugee, attempting to cross the Adriatic in a quest for a better life in Italy, which symbolically becomes "Lamerica", symbol of hope and freedom.At the beginning of the film the young man is brash and arrogant. He has money and nice clothes and is quite willing to become part of the scheme. The old man has been a prisoner for 50 years and doesn't realize the passing of time, still thinking he is only 20. As the story develops, we find out he is not Albanian at all, but a WW2 deserter who yearns to return to Sicily to his wife and newborn son. The young man's goal, however, is to keep him in Albania. But things happen. The young man's car gets stolen and he soon learns how little his money means in the countryside of Albania. For example, after walking for miles, they come to a café. The shopkeeper is clear. "Sorry, no water today. Today holiday. Maybe tomorrow." There isn't any food either. Just a television screen where dozens of men sit like zombies watching Italian TV.The journey is long, and events worsen, but the relationship between the two men grows. It's all very subtle as we watch the old man gain in strength and wisdom and the young man gradually change his character. The acting is excellent, so excellent that I forgot they were actors. There's little action but yet every line had layers of meaning. The poverty is disturbing. How could it ever have gotten this bad? But there's determination in every Albanian to strive for a better life. They do the best they can. And it sure opened my eyes. This is an important film. I'm glad I saw it. But I was left with a lingering sadness when it was over in spite of the fact that the ending was one of hope. This isn't a film for everyone. But those who want to be moved and are not afraid of the subject, I definitely recommend this film."
Greg Allup | Torrance, California United States | 06/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A very nice movie portraying what life was like in Albania following the fall of communism. This movie is well done and filmed entirely in Albania. The documentary style filming of the movie gives you a real upclose look at the lives of ordianry Albanian citizens struggling to make ends meet at a time of a collapsed economy. Though this film is in Italian language, all of the characters except the two leading characters are Albanian.
The characters for the most part comprise of a non-professional cast to give the viewer a look at the harsh reality of post-communist life. The movie is interesting and fascinating to watch because you get to see a little of what Albania looks like. It is important to remember that Albania was Europe's most backward communist society. For four decades this Balkan country was isolated from the rest of the world. Even now Albania is Europe's and one of the world's least known countries. This film is a treat in that it introduces a litte of what Albania was like and still is, even if it is harsh and haunting. Another highlight of the film is that in many scenes it is possible to hear the Albanian language being spoken. Though the Italian dialogue is all subtitled, the Albanian dialogue is not. But, never the less it is interesting to hear the Albanian dialogue spoken by ordinary Albanian citizens.
This film is moving and touches you at the end when you realize why this film is titled Lamerica. A ship with hundreds of people seeking a better life of opportunity in a land that is not their own. This is something that occurs throughout the globe everyday. Lamerica is a film for everybody to learn from and appreciate for what they have."
A Beautifully made film
Greg Allup | 12/04/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gianni Amelio's touching and thought-provoking story of 2 superficial and greedy Italian business men who go to under-developed Albania to set up a business scam. When the deal goes sour the younger business man, with some bad luck, loses his jeep, money, and identity and lives as an Albanian while trying to flee the country. The experience humanizes the Albanians, as he sees that these "savages" are not much different then him, with dreams of love and freedom. Perhaps the best film I have ever seen, with a powerful ending which will make you cry and understand why our fathers, grandfathers, etc.. came to Lamerica"