Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 2 NYFF50: Captivating Actors in ‘Caesar Must Die’

DRAMA, humor and danger ensue when prisoners stage a production of “Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar” in “Caesar Must Die.” (Cesare deve morire)

The film, from siblings Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, makes its North American debut this evening at the 50th New York Film Festival.

Not only is this production challenged by disparate accents, its survival is sometimes complicated by the underlying tension that exists within the prison population. Filmed at Rome's Rebibbia Prison, “Caesar Must Die” is shot mainly in b&w and has the feel of a documentary.

These are not simply actors with nothing in common with the characters they are portraying. Quite the contrary – honor, loyalty and betrayal figure prominently in their code of behavior. They may very well be portraying or auditioning for the part of a character who is much like themselves. They may also be at odds with a character in the play portrayed by the very inmate with whom they have history. (See trailer above.)

In case it is not yet obvious, the "actors" in “Caesar Must Die ” are actual prisoners. Many have been imprisoned for acts connected to organized crime; others are serving life sentences. It takes on a “Victor Victoria”-type quality in that prisoners are portraying actors portraying Brutus&Co.

“Caesar Must Die” – which has additional NYFF50 showings on 30 Sept., 1 Oct. and 8 Oct. – is Italy’s entry into the Best Foreign Language film category for Oscar nomination consideration. It also won the Golden Bear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February. During his acceptance speech, PT is quoted as saying, "We hope that when the film is released to the general public that cinemagoers will say to themselves or even those around them ... that even a prisoner with a dreadful sentence, even a life sentence, is and remains a human being."

“Caesar Must Die” is in Italian with English subtitles … Visit to learn more about the 50th New York Film Festival, including show times and ticket information.

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