Gianni Amelio on ‘Lord of the Ants’ and the Still Pervasive Presence of Homophobia in Italy
Nick Vivarelli International Correspondent Veteran Italian auteur Gianni Amelio rose to prominence with Oscar-nominated “Open Doors” (1990) and also “Stolen Children,” which won the 1992 Cannes Grand Prix. He won the Venice Golden Lion in 1998 with period drama “The Way We Laughed” and competed again in Venice with “A Lonely Hero” in 2013. Amelio’s more recent work comprises “Hammamet,” a portrait of disgraced late Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi’s final years in Tunisia. Amelio is back in Venice with “Lord of the Ants” a biopic of Italian poet, playwright and director Aldo Braibanti, who was jailed in 1968, after a four-year trial due to a Fascist-era anti-gay law. Pic, which is produced by Simone Gattoni and Marco Bellocchio, stars Luigi Lo Cascio (“The Ties”) as Braibanti, who was convicted after a complaint from his younger partner’s father, who later forced his son to be treated with electroconvulsive therapy in an ill-conceived attempt to rid him of his homosexuality. The Fascist-era law that punished Braibanti, which made it a crime to lead innocent or unwary people “morally” astray, was repealed in 1981. Amelio in Venice spoke to Variety about the persistent urgency of this true tale in Italy today. Excerpts.