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European Film

Vittorio Taviani, Paolo Taviani for European Director
Roberto Perpignani for European Editor
Caesar Must Die / Cesare deve morire Italy (76 min)

Director: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
Screenwriter: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
Producer: Grazia Volpi
Director of Photography: Simone Zampagni
Editor: Roberto Perpignani
Original Score: Giuliano Taviani, Carmelo Travia
Main Cast: Giovanni Arcuri (Caesar), Salvatore Striano (Brutus), Cosimo Rega (Cassius), Antonio Frasca (Marcantonio), Fabio Cavalli (stage director)

The theatre in Rome’s Rebibbia Prison: a performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” has just ended amidst much applause. The lights dim on the actors and they become prisoners once again as they are accompanied back to their cells, six months earlier. Who is Giovanni who plays Caesar? Who is Salvatore-Brutus? For which crimes have they been sentenced to prison? The film does not hide this.
The wonder and pride for the play do not always free the inmates from the exasperation of being incarcerated. Their angry confrontations put the show in danger. “Since I have known art, this cell has turned into a prison”.
Director's Statement

A dear friend recounted to us a theatre experience she had had a few nights earlier. She cried, she said, and this had not happened in years. We went to that theatre inside Rome’s Rebibbia prision, the high security section. After passing a number of gates and blockades, we reached a stage where twenty or so inmates, some of them serving life sentences, were reciting Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. They had chosen a few cantos of Hell and were now reliving the pain and torments of Paolo and Francesca, of Count Ugolino, of Ulysses − all in the hell of their own prison.
They each spoke in their own dialect, occasionally addressing parallels between the poetic story evoked by the cantos and their own lives. We remembered the words and tears of our friend.
We felt the need to discover through a film how the beauty of their performances was born from those prison cells, from those outcasts that live so far from culture. We suggested Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” to Fabio Cavalli, the stage director working with the inmates.
We staged it with the collaboration of the inmates, filming in their cells, in the prison yard, the high security section and eventually on stage. We tried to contrast the darkness of their life as convicts with the poetic force of the emotions Shakespeare evokes − friendship and betrayal, murder and the torment of difficult choices, the price of power and truth. Reaching deep into a work like this means also looking at yourself.