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Friday, March 27, 2020

Weekend Streaming Pick- 'The Cost of Bread' by Lucia Grillo

Photo by Rene Besson
Watching contemporary Italian films since the first edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in 2001 and interviewing so many interesting filmmakers over the years, there are memorable films that always stay with me. One of them is Lucia Grillo's "A pena do pana" (The Cost of Bread), a touching portrait of a Calabrese mother and daughter struggling to make ends meet. 

Set in Calabria in 1959, the 16-minute film follows nine-year-old Mariuzzedda as she goes to work each morning harvesting olives, then to school with a grumbling tummy. She begins taking bread on credit at the local bakery, until the day comes when she must pay her debt. The story was inspired by the relationship between Grillo's mother and grandmother, playing the part inspired by her grandmother, a woman to whom she feels a great connection. 

When Grillo's grandmother passed away in 2011, she says that a part of her Calabria died as well that day. “No matter how much I knew and traveled Italy, I was not truly "in Italy" until I arrived at my Nonna's house. I was glad I got to make "A pena do pana" shot in the house she built with my Nonno and where my mother was born.” 

Italian-American actor Vincent Schiavelli plays a key role in this multilayered film. At the time, he had relocated to Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian town where his grandfather was born, and was working mostly in Italian cinema. "A pena do pana" is a unique work that features a wonderful performance by this beloved character actor.  Click here to stream it. 

Watch a clip from my interview with Lucia Grillo on shooting in Calabria..

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