Hide and Seek (Nascondino)
A change in Italy’s law and the trajectory of one small boy towards a life of crime lie at the heart of Victoria Fiore’s documentary feature debut.
Elderly Dora worries about her nine-year-old grandson Entoni. Even at his young age, the Neapolitan boy is enamoured with the underworld, a constant presence in the daily lives of many in the southern Italian city. She not only fears what will happen to him should he join some gang, Italian courts have given authorities the right to remove children from families should they be deemed ‘at risk’ or show potential for criminal activity. Entoni may act tough, but it’s clear that he is still a child – one whose environment has forged him in a way that narrows his opportunities in life and may, should he choose badly, shorten it.
Filmed over four years, Fiore’s documentary is an immersive and emotionally engaging experience. Eschewing talking heads – save for the wisdom extolled by Dora – the film instead quietly observes daily life in Entoni’s home and surroundings. Like Jonas Carpignano’s Calabrian-set dramas (A Chiara, The Ciambra), which focus on the lives of the younger members of families caught up within the all-pervasive criminal networks of the region, Hide and Seek highlights the ease by which children like Entoni can fall into the cracks of criminal life and the few opportunities available to prevent them from doing so. It never judges, but Fiore’s film suggests the need for a social structure that can show Entoni the array of possibilities that life might offer beyond the initial thrill and ultimate trap of a criminal existence.