- I'm Not Scared (Io Non Ho Paura)
- Director: Gabriele Salvatores
- Year: 2003
Twelve years after making the oscar-winning parable of escape Mediterraneo, Gabriele Salvatores directed this adaptation of Niccolò Ammaniti's thriller about a kidnapping in the impoverished south of Italy.
Michele is one of a gang of children who live in a rural town in the south, a town comprising no more than half a dozen homes surrounded by cornfields. One day while playing at an abandoned house near the town, he discovers a hole in the ground, hidden under a sheet of corrugated tin. Investigating further, he finds what he first takes to be a corpse, but then realises is a boy, almost naked and chained to the ground. He has clearly been there a while, too; he's filthy, his chains have chafed his skin and he's half-crazy from a combination of fear, hunger and solitude. At first Michele keeps his discovery a secret, but he soon realises that his discovery is at the centre of a conspiracy that may involve everybody around him, including his own father.
Ammaniti's novel was written in the first person from the perspective of Michele and Salvatores has echoed this, telling the story from Michele's perspective and shooting the film in the bright primary colours of childhood innocence, which contrast eerily to the dark adult world that Michele discovers during the course of the story. These lush saturated colours also contrast with the reality of extreme poverty in the tiny town where Michele lives.
New actor Giuseppe Cristiano makes a convincing Michele, moving naturally between heroic self-sacrifice and childishly selfish caprice. Not least because of his performance, I'm Not Scared is a tense and mesmerising thriller set in the dark space that exists between the mysteries of childhood and those of an embittered and dangerous adult world.
I'm Not Scared has been released on DVD in the UK and the USA. Neither edition has any special features, but they're usually available at a bargain price.