One of the films I couldn't fit into my schedule at the Palm Springs International Film Festival this year was 18 Years Later (18 anni dopo), an Italian film that generated great buzz among audience members there. My frustration at missing the film was finally relieved when I attended this week's screening at the Italian Institute of Culture in Los Angeles. The IIC screening room was packed with what I am told was the largest crowd for a screening there in recent memory.
18 Years Later is the story of Genziano and Mirko, two brothers who have not spoken to one another in the 18 years following the tragic car accident that killed their mother. Upon his death their long-suffering father gets his wish to bring his shattered family back together via an ingenious and resourceful provision in his will. The two brothers must deliver his ashes to the graveside of their mother in the restored antique Morgan in which their mother died.
18 Years Later was a long journey for actor/writer/director Edoardo Leo and his long-time close friend, co-writer and co-star, Marco Bonino. Friends since childhood, they wrote the first draft of the screenplay 10 years ago with the objective of playing the lead roles. After multiple rewrites in both English and Italian, with Marco's wife assisting in the translations, and several false starts between Hollywood and Rome (actor Peter O'Toole was attached at one time to play the grandfather), the two amici finally raised enough money to shoot it themselves. The result was worth that long, hard development hell.
This is a beautiful film about family, guilt and forgiveness. It's a story that resonates with many people. My youngest sister and I stopped talking a decade ago in the aftermath of our own mother's sudden and traumatic death under different circumstances. We started talking to each other again little more than a year ago, and I'm very happy we did. Our journey to self-healing, like Genziano and Mirko's, is hard but ultimately worth the effort.
Despite highly favorable audience reaction during the film's few screenings in this country, Marco reported during the IIC Q&A on Tuesday that the film has yet to be picked up in the USA, although it is being distributed throughout Europe, Australia and other places. I hope that the situation will be remedied soon, so that you can see this film on the big screen.