Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:03 pm 
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Immigrant footballers become a winning Naples team

The Afro-Napoli United soccer team was born in Naples in 2009. It was a team of immigrants from Africa and South America, second generation Italians, and Neopolitans. The protagonists of this documentary tale are Adam, Lello and Maxime, all players of the Afro-Napoli United team, and the team's tough, ever-present founder and president, Antonio Gargiulo. Through the lives of these individuals, Loro di Napoli tells the tale of their unstoppable integration and the delays and hostilities they encounter with Italian laws in a long, drawn-out battle for recognition and stability. (Loro di Napoli is a play on words, combining the Gioseppe Marotta's book filmed by Vittorio de Sica with the phrase, "those of Naples," implying these men, ultimately, are an integral part of the southern city.

Li Doni's film is intimate and alive, in a modern documentary style that feels sometimes like a feature film. Events move from the president's efforts to get the team registered, where the hangup is a lack of official residency papers (even though the players are legal residents), on to the first federation games, in which they don't do well. Perhaps the players are weighed down by other problems. They are separated from their families, or their wives and kids. They get into legal trouble for selling knockoff items. They use drugs, lack discipline. It is clear from the way Gargiulo lectures them that they are very young and green: he has to make clear to them what being a professional player is - which is interesting, because we are seeing a team created as it were from scratch. But this is a success story, Li Doni just presents it in a gritty style. DP Chiara Caterina, editor Matteo Gherardini, assistant camerapersons Piero Li Donni, Iacopo Di Girolamo.

Afro-Napoli United/Loro di Napoli, 69 mins, was presented at the Florence Panorama del Festival dei Popoli 2015, and included in a number of other festivals. Screened for this review as part of SFFS's New Italian Cinema 2016, where it showed 17 Nov. at 4:40 pm.

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