IMAGINE seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

In the 2003 Italian film Io Non Ho Paura (I am not Scared), viewers will not only see, but also think and feel like a child does. A part of the monthly screening of the 2005 Italian Film Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the film is based on the novel of the same title by Niccolo Ammaniti.

Directed by Oscar winner Gabriele Salvatores, I am not Scared illustrates the innocence of a child lost in the depths of reality and cynicism. Set in rural Southern Italy in 1978, a nine-year-old boy Michele (Guiseppe Cristiano) accidentally finds a deep hole in the ground near an abandoned house, and surprisingly sees the foot of a boy sticking out from under a rag. Traumatized by what he sees, Michele immediately runs back home. But because of a child’s undeniable curiosity—and partly because he is fond of adventure stories—he goes back to the hole, and this time, he catches sight of the boy himself—half-blind, almost naked, and full of scratches and wounds.

He doesn’t have a clue as to how and why the boy got there, but Michele nevertheless visits and brings him food and water whenever possible. Little does he know that the adults in his small community—including his parents, played by Aitana Sanchez-Gijon and Dino Abbrescia—have kidnapped the boy, whose name he later learned is Filippo (Mattia di Pierro). Michele gets caught when he tells his little secret to his best friend, who tells one of the adults in the community. He is told never to see the boy again, who apparently was transferred to another location. But when he overhears the adults talking about killing Filippo, he immediately goes out in search of his friend.

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Ammaniti’s novel is in itself powerful and full of emotion. Add to that Salvatores’ gift of transcending the limits of cinematic art and you get a visually aesthetic creation. With scenes of dried, golden wheat fields and wide, rural landscapes under a hot blazing sun, the film displays the makings of the rural Sicilian environment—isolated, parched, and mostly abandoned. Because of the movie’s powerful visuals, cinemato-grapher Italo Pettricione won the cinemato-graphy award at the prestigious 2004 David di Donatello Awards in Rome.

An aspect of the film that comple-ments the atmosphere of every scene is the captivating music. Pepo Scherman and Ezio Bosso’s use of stringed instruments emphasized the gravity of every scene and set the mood for the characters’ abstract emotions.

While the cinematography and score come as a jolt of ingenuity and creativity, the performance of the actors are also worth commending. Kudos to the young actor, Guiseppe Cristiano, for his confident portrayal of Michele, and actress Aitana Sanchez-Gijon’s multi-faceted characterization as a wife and mother. Veteran actor Diego Abatantuono is not to be underrated as well. Playing a bad-tempered visitor and the mastermind in the evil scheme, he brings to life the role of a menacing character.

With terrific visuals, moving musical score, and evocative acting, I am not Scared is an artistic film worth the movie lover’s attention. It is disappointing, however, that the film has not been commercially released here in the Philippines.

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