Punta Sacra

laurels icon Best Documentary Feature Nominee
  • Politico, Discovery
  • 1h 36m
  • Documentary Feature
  • UK Premiere
  • 2020

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The last patch of land at the mouth of the Tiber; its inhabitants call it Punta Sacra, Sacred Point. Realism and imaginary intertwine in this suburb of Rome, where Franca leads an all-female community. People are hanging between nostalgia and pragmatism, struggling between a strong sense of belonging and the lack of opportunities for the new generations.

Francesca graduated from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia of Rome in 2015. She has directed short films and documentaries (Nowhere, I Know You Can Hear Me and 1989) that won several awards, and later worked as the assistant director to Marco Danieli in La ragazza del mondo. Succede was her first film.

Film Review: Haunting and strange, Francesca Mazzoleni’s Puntasacra is a compelling slice of life in matriarchal Idroscalo, “the last self-built neighbourhood in Rome”. Foul-mouthed tech- and pyrotechnics-obsessed children play around bizarre homemade sculptures, intended to represent jolly circus animals but transformed into something sinister by the endless wintry skies and constant barrage of sea-spray. Christmas arrives; a repainted ladder does duty as a tree, and an Italian-language karaoke version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah serves in place of Christmas songs. There is no Father Christmas, but a huge, tawdry Minnie Mouse and Peppa Pig. The film is at its best when its subjects volubly argue the merits of Pier Paolo Pasolini (who was brutally murdered nearby in 1975), communism, fascism, and private hairdressing school. The priest of a tiny church in a perennially flooded, unpaved street reminds us that “being keepers of a place is different from owning it.” Apt words indeed, in a town where every structure is “unauthorised”, and property developers circle like vultures. In the end, Mazzoleni’s exploration of a town whose destruction is only ever one big wave away emerges as a statement on the tenuousness, and the absurdity, of life itself. Dan MacCannell


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Alessandro Greco

Director of Photography

Emanuele Pasquet

Sound Designer

Chiara Santella

Sound Designer

Federico Cabula

Sound Designer

Marco Falloni