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Italy, 1997 (MIFF 1998, East of Broadway)

Director: Roberta Torre

Tano da Morire is insane! It's hilarious, it's black and it's thoroughly lush. How else to describe a self-confessed 'Mafia Gangsta Rap Musical'? Somewhere between the satire of Mel Brooks, the realism of Fellini and the campness of Almodovar, Tano was born. Tano the musical that is, not the man. For Tano the man was in real life one part Mafia, one part lover and four parts legend.

The subject matter (particularly in Sicilian Italy) is touchy and hushed, but the musical pulls not a single punch. The story of Tano's life and death (he was killed in 1988) is told by the people of Palermo, unknown actors, people who actually knew him, loved him, hated him. Tano's sister Franca is skilfully attended to by trained nurse Mimma D. De Rosalia, and the local tavern owner plays Tano's best friend! The sobering aspect is the fact that for most of these actors, the Mafia is an everyday reality.

Sets are rich and colourful, hair is permed and set, and the costumes are enough to make Gaultier take notes. Nino D'Angelo - popular Italian performer of Neapolitan songs - hams up the plot with outrageous-songs such as the Tano Rap! Director Roberta Torre pulls together the various elements in a way which reflects her strong bond with the people and culture of the town of Palermo. Tano da Morire breaks all the conventions - a cult classic in the making.

Roberta Torre, born in Milan in 1962, studied Philosophy and graduated from the Scuola di Cinema in Milan. Her 1990 documentary Tempo da Buttare (Time to Waste) was awarded at the Edinburgh Fringe Film Festival. Since 1991 Torre has lived in Palermo, where she lives and produces her prolific 'docufiction' work on video and film. Torre's work has been previewed in various Italian festivals, and Channel Four has bought and produced many of her projects. Tano da Morire is Torre's first feature film.

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