Nello (Cladio Bisio) is passionate about everything; he cares greatly for his fashion designer girlfriend Sara (Anita Caprioli) and his factory union brethren. Unfortunately he’s too left for his girlfriend and too free market for his job at the union. His girlfriend leaves him and he’s fired from his union job. He winds up as a manager at a work cooperative for released mental patients.
They’re not quite mad enough for the mental ward, but can’t be out in normal society either. It appears the world can’t give them much but charity. The 11 patients work doing menial jobs like posting stamps and putting labels on olives. The patients are frustrated with the world too. Drugs are used to control their behaviour but the side effects make them dull and slow.
Nello’s job is to get new business for the cooperative. His political side gets the better of him and it’s not long before he starts debating the merits of the welfare state versus free market to the patients. He greatly believes in the dignity of work and embarks on making them into hardwood floor installers. They’re not very good at first, taking three times the normal installation time for a job.
When the cooperative runs out of wood at a job and the boss away at a funeral, they use scrap pieces to create a gorgeous wooden floor mosaic. At first Nello is fearful of the client’s reaction, but they love it. This leads to more work, a bigger pay check and an increase in self-esteem. Success allows them to get their own dormitories and a new factory. It also allows them to get different medical care and reduced dosages of mood altering drugs. It really has been a life changer for the patients.
Like the raw material used to create their beautiful mosaics the cooperative are made up of discards. Nello soon finds out that he needs healing as much as the patients do. The members discover, work, life, love and most importantly, dignity.
This movie was very enjoyable to watch. Director and co written by Giulio Manfredonia, this film literally has all the right stuff. The large ensemble cast was handled adeptly as well as the brilliant script the actors were reading from. The actors were all good but Bisio as Nello was brilliant. The musical score was also great as it blended in with the film well. The only small gripe is that the film is set in the 80s Milan. I could hardly tell, the art direction could have been stronger.
This is a great heart warming story. The movie was inspired by real events of the 80s, where Social Cooperatives in Italy were founded, to provide work for those released from insane asylums. There was a Cooperative “Noncello” in Pordenone where they laid parquet (wooden flooring). Today there 2,500 such Social Cooperatives, giving work to nearly 30,000 disabled members.
Figli Delle Stelle (Children of the Stars) 2010 Italy
[rating=6]6/10 Italian Comedy Mini Film Festival - film 7 of 8 The death of Venice port worker brings anger and ...