Director: Aurelio Grimaldi
Acla is a harrowing yet lyrical film whichtranscends the genre of social realism and the workers' epic, attaining the heights of almost operatic beauty. Illuminated with incandescent imagery and stunning music, this tale of 11-year-old Ada —a young boy sold by his father to digger Caramazza, to work in the Floristella sulphur mine for five years — is set in Sicily in the 1930s and explores a reality that its ruled by cruelty and exploitation.
Life for the miners is harsh. For six long days at a time they work in the stifling furnace-like shafts, drowning their sorrows on a Sunday when alcohol provides the only relief. The children trapped in this hellish nightmare are virtually slaves, misused at every turn. They experience physical and sexual abuse indulged in by every adult in an unspoken (and unquestioned) agreement.
Inspired by the letters his sister sends from Australia, Acla decides to escape. He withdraws into an unreal dream world, fleeing the terror and the sulphur, to find that the power and delights of his imagination can transport him to a place where happiness is attainable; a place by the sea.