Shot in Martano, Stendalí is the record of a female mourning ritual – enacted within ethnic Greek communities that spoke Griko, a dialect that can still be found in southern Puglia – on the brink of extinction.
Seven-year-old Fabio Spada is narrated into our awareness with pedestrian, bureaucratic details: the name of his parents, the exact location of his family’s cramped living situation in a tower block in the Roman suburbs, and this suburb’s transport connections.
“A real cathedral in the desert” is how Mangini described the newly built Monteshell petrochemical plant, the biggest in the country and the bureaucratic force that brings together the managers and workers – both current and former – put before the camera in Brindisi ’65.
A sensuous and vibrant vision of a group of boys who leave home barefoot and without breakfast to congregate by a marane – a small stream – in the Roman suburbs, forming a microcosmic society in which they scavenge for food, fight, swim and play.
Boycotted and covertly censored by the producers and directors who formed part of the Commissione ministeriale, which decided on which short should accompany features in cinema programmes at the time, Essere Donne was a commission from the Communist-aligned production company Unitele