Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
Italian director Gabriele Salvatores (Mediterraneo) has created a striking account of childish innocence in a treacherous adult world. Centring on appealingly naturalistic performances from a young cast, he draws us into the childhood experience of scorching, endless summer in the country. Deftly he provides us with telling evidence no child could interpret, that the adult world is far from sunny. Without exploiting his child-in-peril scenario for horror-movie thrills, Salvatores tenderises us with apprehension as the compassionate instincts of the young protagonist carry him deeper and deeper into grown-up trouble.
“In I’m Not Scared, Italian children play together in a field of wheat bathed by summer sun – and yet something about the quality of light in this enjoyably sinister drama conveys foreboding. The gaggle at play, including ten-year-old Michele, challenge each other, as kids do, with pint-size dares. The adults, meanwhile, are up to something far more menacing, which Michele accidentally uncovers: he stumbles across a secret bunker at a derelict farmhouse and glimpses what appears to be a small human foot. The film is adapted by Gabriele Salvatores from Niccolò Ammaniti’s best-selling novel of the same name. With a taste for dark lyricism, the director delicately emphasizes the contrast between surface innocence and subterranean danger, and between grown-up secrets and boyhood bravery.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly