VENICE, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Italian director Mario Martone's "Il Sindaco del rione Sanita" (The Mayor of Rione Sanita) premiered here at the 76th Venice Film Festival on Friday, telling a Naples-based story depicting what the author described as "the eternal struggle between good and evil."
Competing for the Golden Lion, Martone faced a major challenge with this feature, which brings to the large screen an adaptation of a play by revered Italian playwright and actor Eduardo De Filippo.
The original play was put on stage first time in 1960 at the Quirino Theater in Rome.
Played in Neapolitan dialect and Italian, the movie stars Francesco Di Leva in the role of Antonio Barracano, a "strong man" who rules over his neighborhood, mediates and settles disputes with his charisma and an aura of impartiality, but also according to his own sense of good and evil, beyond formal laws.
For this reason, he is dubbed the "mayor".
In Italian language, "rione" indicates a city's district and in this case refers to a real and very poor neighborhood of Naples, the Sanita, where ties with Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, have traditionally been strong.
When the son of a local baker runs to Barracano for advice, confessing his determination to kill his despotic father, who has disinherited him, the "mayor" identifies himself in the enraged young man, recalling the same thirst for vengeance that haunted and marked his own youth.
Determined to save both the son and the father, Barracano once again acts as an informal king and tries to restore harmony between them.
While the "mayor" was a man in his 70s in De Filippo's original script, Martone has chosen 40-year-old actor Di Leva for this central character on the big screen, and with a specific reason.
"Today, (mafia) bosses are young, and this allows Eduardo's great script to be put to the test of contemporaneity," Martone explained.
"At the center of the stage (movie) here is a ferocious, ambiguous and painful humanity, in which good and evil confront each other in every character," the director explained.
Along with Di Leva, the main cast includes Massimiliano Gallo in the role of the father and Roberto De Francesco in that of a doctor and Barracano's close friend.
Martone's is one of three Italian films competing for the Golden Lion in the main selection of the 76th Venice Film Festival, the others being Franco Maresco's "La mafia e piu quella di una volta" (The Mafia Is No Longer What It Used to Be), and Pietro Marcello's "Martin Eden."