On Wednesday, October 21, 2015 the Italian American Association, IAA, co-sponsored an event with the Interfaith Center, IFC, as part of IFC’s Global Film Series. A large group was in attendance for Benvenuti al Sud by Luca Miniero which is a remake of the French film Down in the South by Dany Boon. After the screening, IAA’s e-board along with John Nesbitt, Director of IFC, and Professor Misuraca, facilitated a panel discussion on the film’s theme: regionalism.
Miniero’s film illustrates the story of Alberto whose job transfers him from a city in Lombardia to a small town in Campania, Italy. Miniero highlights the assumptions some Italians from different regions make about one another. Having lived in various Italian cities, Miniero has been able to experience firsthand the many misconceptions some Italians have about others who are not from their very own city or town. Miniero shows that different cultural and regional customs do not merit discrimination.
Some stereotypes are that southerners lack a work ethic and that northerners do nothing but work. In Benvenuti al Sud, the director underscores how when you truly get to know someone, stereotypes and misconceptions fade away. The film highlights many regional differences some of which are: which region is home to Gorgonzola and zabaione, which region(s) take an hour or a four-hour lunch break, which regions use more commonly “Lei” formal or “Voi” in its place. By the end of the film, the main character begins to realize that the stereotypes he previously believed are false. His new Neapolitan friends work just as hard as his colleagues from Milan, and that they truly enjoy life.
Benvenuti al Sud is a representation of Italian cinema in that the plot is told through the family. Alberto’s wife, Silvia, does not move with him to Castellabate because they have a small child, Kiko. The importance of food, as an event and not a chore, is exemplified when Alberto and his new found friends gather around the table for dinner. He becomes a student of their local customs and traditions such as pronunciation of words, hand gestures and cuisine.
Watch Benvenuti al Sud to see how Alberto changes from a closed-minded rigid milanese to a care-free napoletano. You will also see that the American “Hollywood” ending does not find itself in this film!