Preview: 'Alì Blue Eyes' (Egyptian Teen Living In Italy Caught Between Conflicting Identities)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 23, 2013 1:33 PM
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In 2009, director Claudio Giovannesi, directed a documentary titled Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), which followed the lives of 3 teenage immigrants in Italy - one from Romania who'd lived in Italy for 4 years and is in daily conflict with his new surroundings; one from ​​Belarus, who was adopted by an Italian family, but who wants to leave to unite with his brother, who stayed in Belarus; and finally, an Egyptian born in Rome, who's involved with an Italian girl against the wishes of his parents. 

The documentary film tackled the lives, loves, conflicts and issues of identity of these 3 teens.

3 years later, director Giovannesi decided to make a scripted fictional film with these same 3 teens as actors, but focused solely on the life of the 3rd young man - 16 year old Nader Sarhan, an Egyptian teenager who stops at nothing to fit in to Italian youth culture despite his family’s insistence that he respect his Egyptian and Muslim roots. He gets into fights, does drugs, steals and pursues an Italian girlfriend against his mother’s threats to disown him. 

The new film is titled Alì Blue Eyes, and is screening at the ongoing 2013 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), here in New York City.

Nader pretty much plays a scripted version of himself, telling his real-life story, as can be seen in Giovannesi's Brothers of Italy documentary, which, unfortunately, doesn't appear to be available in the USA. You can buy a copy of the original Italian film on DVD (region 2), but it doesn't look like it's subtitled.

However, Alì Blue Eyes is screening in the USA right now, in NYC, and will likely continue to travel the USA film festival circuit, so it just might come to a festival near you.

The film already screened in Italy, winning the Special Jury Prize at the Rome Film Festival last year.

It's also been very-well reviewed, with Variety calling it a new wave Italian neorealist work, which reinvigorates the movement's stylistic and thematic standards in a story of an Egyptian teen living in Italy, caught between his conflicting identities.

Meanwhile, Tribeca calls says it's a wonderfully non-judgmental study of a young man, and the lesson he learns, with strong performances from the non-professional cast, most of whom are playing close versions of themselves.

No English-subtitled trailer yet, so this original Italian trailer will have to do for now:

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