What to watch: Fireworks

A bittersweet story of love, inspired by true events.

What to watch: Fireworks

Written and directed by Giuseppe Fiorello, Fireworks - Stranizza d'amuri - gives us the story of Gianni and Nino, set in Sicily in 1982.

Gianni and Nino are two young guys who are navigating life and love but are confronted by systemic homophobia - they face rejection by their small community if they attempt to follow their hearts.

The film stars Gabriele Pizzurro, Samuele Segreto, Fabrizia Sacchi, Simona Malato, Antonio De Matteo, and Enrico Roccaforte.

As a standalone piece of cinema, this is a watchable and engaging film. What gives added emotional punch is that it's based on a real-life incident.

In 1980, the bodies of Giorgio Giamonna and Antonio Galatola were discovered near the small Sicilian town of Giarre. The young men were known to be lovers. They had been shot. No one was ever charged with the murder, although research over the subsequent decades suggest that it was an honour-killing, ordered by the Galatola family.

At the time, the murder shocked Italy and helped to inspire LGBTQ activists to organise and advocate for equality.

While inspired by those events, Fiorello's film takes some dramatic licence with the circumstances surrounding the murder.

The shame attached to homosexuality, the aggressive machismo, and the systemic homophobia is all amply illustrated but amidst it all we get a tender and romantic drama about two teenagers who fall in love and want to be together.

Viewing it from today's perspective, it's difficult to comprehend how deep and violent that homophobia runs in the time and place in which these characters exist. We are almost lulled into a false sense of security that Gianni and Nino will get the happy ending that they so clearly deserve.

It's a tone that's cleverly handled by Fiorello - a final scene that sees our star-crossed lovers basking in the afterglow of Italy's victory in the World Cup and their own reunion, before their lives are cut short by an unseen hand who sees their supposed transgression as a threat to the code of honour that rules this harsh and unforgiving island.

Fireworks delivers a bittersweet love story that will leave you heartbroken for all of the Giannis and Ninos of the world.

Fireworks is distributed by Cinephobia

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