Program 21 – One Kiss
Italy / 2016 / 102 min. | Directed by: Ivan Cotroneo
In Italian with English subtitles
High school can be a brutal place, and the only way many of us get through at all is by relying on the friends we make there. Lorenzo (Rimau Ritzberger Grillo) has just been taken in by a loving foster couple who are thrilled to have him. Openly gay, Lorenzo is looking for a fresh start and ready to take on the world with a supportive family behind him. He imagines arriving for his first day of school greeted by throngs of adoring admirers showering him with affection, snapping selfies all the way. Instead, all he gets are mean-spirited taunts and an I Hate Lorenzo Facebook page created in his honor.
Despite being a jock and one of the best players on the basketball team, Antonio (Leonardo Pazzagli) doesn’t fit in with the rest of his classmates. Quiet and reserved, he still hasn’t gotten over the death of his beloved older brother in a tragic motorcycle accident. Blu (Valentina Romani) is also an outcast, as rumors of her extensive sexual activity have resulted in her being branded as a slut.
Kindred spirits, Lorenzo, Antonio, and Blu are all misunderstood in their own ways. But the three band together and find exactly what they each need to make high school life bearable. But when Lorenzo develops a crush on Antonio, he makes a move that changes the course of their friendship forever.
Director Ivan Cotroneo (screenwriter of I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton, and ImageOut 2011 Closing Night selection, Loose Cannons) brings a light touch to sometimes heavy material, injecting levity and flights of fantasy into a film which ultimately offers an unflinching look at the impact of homophobia and bullying on the lives of young people. We tend to think of friendship is the key to overcoming everything life may throw our way, but the reality is that sometimes even that isn’t enough.
— Adam Lubitow
Guglielmo Biraghi Award: Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Official Selection: Seattle International Film Festival Official Selection: TLVFest Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival