The Screening Room Blog
Monday, September 29, 2008
Marco Pontecorvo's 'Pa-Ra-Da'

(LONDON, England) -- Your father is Gillo Pontecorvo -- author of one of the greatest postwar Italian films, "The Battle of Algiers," (for more on this film and other greats of Italian cinema click here) which won the Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival in 1966 -- that's got to be a pretty tough reputation to live up to.

Marco Pontecorvo's response to this unnerving familial overachievement is a debut film based on the true story of a clown who moves to Bucharest, Romania and starts a circus with streetkids as performers.

"Pa-Ra-Da" was one of the films that wowed critics at Venice this year.

It is the true story of the French-Algerian clown Miloud Oukili who went to Romania in 1992, three years after the end of Ceausescu's dictatorship. There he met Bucharest's "boskettari" or street children, living underground and making a living out of petty theft, begging and prostitution.

Miloud felt the need to bring hope to the tragic lives of the boskettari and he created a circus company with the children. "Parada" is the name of the circus company that today still travels around Europe with it's own show carrying a message of hope and solidarity.

It's a touching story but what made Pontecorvo think it could be a successful film?

"First of all it was something that I say it couldn't happen in the real life," he says, "As soon as I knew a little more I found out there were elements I think for a drama and for a movie ... there was a dream of the protagonist to save them and to save himself."

Pontecorvo has worked for many years as a cinematographer but felt compelled to tell this story himself: "There are stories that I feel closer to and I wish to tell personally."

For more on "Pa-Ra-Da" watch or subscribe to The Screening Room podcast.

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