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Director Giulio Manfredonia has crafted an Italian iteration of President Obama’s campaign slogan: Si può fare, the mantra of a cooperative of mental patients who want something more out of life than state-sponsored meds. It all starts with the arrival of Signor Nello, the cooperative’s new supervisor, who got ousted from his old union for being too “leftist” (though really for just being a bit too much himself). Pre-Nello, the crazies were stuck doing “welfare work”—mindless tasks like gluing stamps to envelopes, a duty they treated less as busywork and more as an art project. Sensing a creative spark, Nello marshals the patients into a quirky social machine of “specialists,” who turn out to be visionaries at creating breathtaking parquet floor designs out of discarded wood. (“This is a cooperative of discards,” one of the patients observes in a moment of clarity.) An overachieving discard himself, Nello ignores the naysaying of the resident doctor, who diagnoses him as having “a problem with omnipotence.” As Nello tapers off the patients’ doses and they start winning major contracts, they reenter the world—going on road trips, finding girlfriends, and meeting a few of the demons the drugs had kept at bay. The consequences of Nello’s progressive “therapy,” though foreseen, are brutal, but the film’s kicker is its most moving moment—and likely to be one of the most moving of the whole festival.
At 4 p.m.on Sunday, April 26 at Regal Gallery Place. Followed by a party at Bar Louie. $20