Weekly section on the critical engagement of cinema by Gordiano Lupi.
Antonio Bonifacio (Cosenza, 1957) is a factotum in the cinema world: actor, scriptwriter and film/ television director – and of few forgettable films. He was Aristide Massaccessi’s assistant, so his debut was impressive (Appuntamento in nero, 1989), but following this he went on to direct some low quality films including: Nostalgia di un piccolo grande amore (1991), Kreola (1993), La strana storia di Olga O (1995) – with Serena Grandi – Laura non c’è (1998, a flop!), Il delitto di via Monte Parioli (1998) and Il monastero (2004). He then created the TV series Turbo (1999) which imitated Kommissar Rex – and La stanza della fotografia, both rather discrete film genres.
Kreola is often broadcasted by some paid TV channels and you could watch it online in English, which was the most broadcasted edition. The plot is fairly simple- Kreola (Hampton) finds her husband Andy (Losito), who is a photographer in Santo Domingo. Here, she falls in love with the rough fisher Leon (Armstead) who is already in a relationship with Iris (Rinaldi), also Marco’s (Carbonaro) girlfriend. The result is a tangle of love and jealousy, which is teamed with slow movement of time and a syncopated rhythm.
There is much eroticism and some elements of a thriller, however the tension builds considerably slow and the finale is predictable: Kreola comes back to her husband.
The reason why a film like Kreola is still seen nowadays is that it reminds people of the old Italian cinema, for example of Joe D’Amato and his erotic Dominicans, who are honoured by Bonifacio. Kreola is a sound exotic-erotic film, which was well photographed and directed in the picturesque place that is Santo Domingo. The landscape consists of sea, beaches, colonial houses, music- merengue and bachata, which feature in every scene, even in the little islands and Caribbean parties. The actresses were well casted: Demetra Hampton – the sexy televise Valentina – is very sensual and manages to perform intense erotic scenes without a trace of discomfort. Cristina Rinald and Cristina Garavaglia are not inferior, they are often naked and maintain a cool composure while Cinzia Montreale is worthy and convincing, but it is worth mentioning that she did not perform naked scenes.
The male cast is not so impressive: three photostory actors are handsome but fairly inexpressive. In regard to other artistic elements, they do not fall short from the latter; the dialogues are farcical, the plot reduced and well known, and the erotic scenes, which initially promise a lot - thanks to steamy shower scenes, in the end become repetitive. The director manages to direct the cast with steady hand however, and executes the erotic scenes well - soft, if not slightly excessive, sometimes as far as to be considered porn. It is important to note that there is no attempt to portray local culture/voodoo rites as Massaccesi did; the script is by Stroppa, which could have had a dramatic aspect. The finale is dull and anticlimactic and the film is no masterpiece, but you can’t expect more from the film genre crisis of the 90’s.
Bonifacio said: “It’s a film without script, done to pay the previous ones. Every morning Demetra Hampton came to the set and shouted. She did the film for money and didn’t care. A film without plot, without anything. And all the actors are wrong. I hadn’t a dolly or a line, just the camera and the film.” (Nocturno Cinema) Kreola is a tribute to Massaccesi, a film that tries (without success) to revitalize the exotic-erotic genre. It is viewed only for historical interest and perhaps to admire the wild beauty of Demetra Hampton.
Direction: Antonio Bonifacio. Story and screenplay: Daniele Stroppa. Photography: Angelo Lannutti. Editing: Franco Letti. Production director: Maurizio Mattei. Production assistant: Ada Saruis Bandiera. Art director (sets): Antonio Visone. Costumes: Alessia Mattei. Direction assistant: Massimo Giacchi. Camera assistants: Donatella Donati, Ettore Corso. Still photographer: Carlo Lannutti. Sound engineer: Andrea Angioli. Music publishing: Emi Music Publishing Italia srl. Production: Real Film srl. Film: Kodak spa. Development and print:Techinicolor spa. Running time: 87’. Genre: Erotic/Drama. Actors: Demetra Hamnpton (Kreola), Theo Losito (Andy), Cinzia Monreale (Jo Ann), John Armstead (Leon), Crisitna Garavaglia (Consuelo), Marco Carbonaro (Marco), Cristina Rinaldi (Iris).
Translation by Emma Lenzi (edited by Amy Scarlett Holt)
Gordiano Lupi (Piombino, 1960). Editorial manager of Edizioni Il Foglio, he contributes to Turin’s newspaper La Stampa as a translator of Yoani Sánchez’s blog. He translated the novels of the Cuban author Torreguitart Ruiz and published a number of books on Cuba, cinema, and many other topics. See the full list at www.infol.it/lupi.
He participated in some TV broadcasts such as Corrado Augias’s Cominciamo bene le storie, Luca Giurato’s Uno Mattina, Odeon TV series on the Italian serial killers, Rete Quattro La Commedia all’italiana, Monica Maggioni’s Speciale TG1 on Cuba and Yoani Sánchez, Dove TV series on Cuba. He guested on some Italian and Swiss radio broadcasts for his books and comments on the Cuban culture.
In 2012 he published a long chapter in El otro paredón, an essay on the Cuban situation, written with four authors of the Cuban exile, and issued in the USA with English and Spanish versions. His books received a large number of reviews and mentions. See the full list at www.infol.it/lupi. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.