The secret of the quarters

During the sunrise of January, bare-chested Ivano, Zazà, Checco Lecco, Godwin Kofi known as Emanuele, and Luigi, appear like astute and silent mice. The wood, the ash and the fire melt on their rosy cold cheeks. Finally the kids of the Spanish quarters don’t have to keep their adventure for themselves.

 “Il segreto” may explode cheerful in the bowel of the buildings, while their mothers hide behind the windows and the people passing by talk loudly about these bonfires of Saint Anthony. This is a hilarious, intense story, narrated in a documentary that on Saturday will be presented at the Torino Film Festival, by Luca Rossomando (author of the plot), with the duo Cyop&Kaf, directors and graffiti writers in the streets between via Toledo and corso Vittorio Emanuele.

The duo Cyop&Kaf, after painting the labyrinth of the city centre with more than 200 works, now deepens – thanks to a production that includes Quore Spinato, Parallelo 41, Napoli Monitor, Antonella Di Nocera and Daria D’Antonio, with the original soundtrack by Enzo Avitabile – something that’s more than an ancient ritual. It’s moreover an expression of identity, human and territorial, of some kids that skip school just to take part in a mission. That is not seen as a game, and has the severity of a war.

During Christmas the kids go around looking for spruces, either new or abandoned, around the proletarian side of Naples and also in its more glamorous streets. They settle negotiations with the banks of Palazzo Cellamare and with the Augusteo theatre, with the boutiques and the business men’s secretaries, in order to pick up the greatest amount of trees. Afterwards, they fight for revenge with the gangs’ kids from the other quarters, from Cavone to Torretta or Santa Lucia. They do night shifts to protect the trees that are piled inside an old yard: what’s left after the demolition of a building in 1993 – the kids said they asked the institutions the permission to turn it into a soccer field – that becomes the refuge of their dream.

When the moment comes, everybody’s ready to climb on the walls and get inside the manholes to prepare molotovs and light up the unsustainable darkness of the Quarters. There’s who brings the panzerotti, who has a mohawk like Balotelli’s and does tricks with his scooter, who arrives at the celebration with roast chicken. Someone, scared of his duty, talks about his discontents and fears, revealing that not even his brother could possibly defend him: he’s in house arrest. But the trees has got to be set on fire. (gianni valentino)