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The Daily Ittefaq

The film which beat Barbie at Italy's box office

Update : 25 Apr 2024, 13:49

Greta Gerwig's Barbie may be the most financially successful movie ever to be directed by a female filmmaker, and the highest-grossing film of 2023. But it was beaten at the box office in Italy by another film, also made by a woman and speaking directly about the female experience.

There's Still Tomorrow (C'è Ancora Domani), by 50-year-old actress, writer and singer Paola Cortellesi, is now being released across Europe, including the UK. It became a phenomenon in Italy last year, taking more money than both Barbie and Oppenheimer.

As of last month, it had made around £31.5m in cinemas, was the country's biggest film of 2023, and the most successful film ever directed by an Italian woman.

Cortellesi tells BBC News that she still can't quite believe its success.

"No-one could ever have predicted the wave of participation and affection from audiences over this movie," she says. "I've been an actress for nearly 30 years, and I've written scripts for the last 10 years, now I've made my first film aged 50. And to share the screen and the box office with a huge film like Barbie, that also deals with the experiences of women, it's got to be a good thing."

Part of the reason There's Still Tomorrow might have struck such a chord in Italy, however, is that the heroine, Delia, (also played by Cortellesi) suffers violent physical and emotional abuse by her husband. In the film, Delia is a housewife and mother living in poverty in post-war Rome in 1946, the year Italian women first got to vote. 

However, the film's story resonates with contemporary Italian audiences. According to recent police statistics, 120 women were murdered in Italy in 2023, about one every three days. The report said just over 50% of them were killed by partners or ex-partners. A quarter of them were killed by their children - in 89% of those cases, their son.

The issue of femicide erupted in Italy in November 2023, a few weeks after the release of There's Still Tomorrow. Mass protests were held over the killing of 22-year-old university student Giulia Cecchettin, allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who is awaiting trial. 

Her funeral was attended by thousands of people and her death triggered major protests and calls for more protection for women.

Cortellesi says that her film partly attempts to explore a cultural mentality that she argues, "has been going on for millennia". 

So-called "crimes of passion" were only criminalised in Italy in 1981 and in July 2023, judges in Rome made worldwide headlines when a school caretaker was acquitted of groping a 17-year-old schoolgirl, because the sexual assault lasted less than ten seconds. A "brief groping" become a trend on Instagram and TikTok in Italy, along with the #10secondi hashtag.

"The subject of the killing of women is unfortunately very, very topical, especially in Italy," Cortellesi explains.  "But femicide is often the tragic end of something that didn't begin that way. What we don't know is the history that culminates in a horrendous act of violence and a death of a woman every 72 hours in Italy. We can only infer a history of violence which is often not even brought to the authorities before it escalates."

The director says that the themes of violence against women has been part of her scriptwriting for years, as well as in her stage and screen work as an actor, although she says she hasn't personally experienced it herself.

"I wanted to make a contemporary film set in the past in order to compare what's changed and what's stayed the same," she explains.

"We might now, as women, have certain rights and safeguards, but what hasn't changed in society is this mentality that distorts love and turns it into possession. That's why we need better education." Source: BBC

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