Italian filmmaker Corrado Franco's "Al Di Qua," filmed among Turin's homeless population, is not your typical social issue movie. Few would have the notion to give one of his subjects, a bearded street fellow named Rodolfo, an on-screen funeral in which dozens of his fellow itinerants form a procession to enter a hospital chapel for a testimonial-laced service complete with ghostly special effects and levitation.
Franco's combination documentary and art film features real sufferers of poverty and destitution telling heartbreaking tales of woe. There's even a pattern to many of the stories: unexpected financial hardship and emotionally devastating detours into depression or grief suddenly render hard-working men and women invisible to society at the point of their direst need.
Says one, "My so-called light went out." Another, referring to his altered vision of the world, seeing materialism in humans now, not love. Filmed in black and white, with subjects speaking directly to the camera — their faces older than their years, and their voices decelerated on the soundtrack so that they all sound collectively slowed by life — "Al Di Qua" is both necessary and, in Franco's more flamboyant touches, perhaps a bit thickly applied.
But even as recitations from Rainer Maria Rilke's prayerful "The Book of Hours" (also reduced in speed) and the swelling sounds of Bach's "Passions" overwhelm the proceedings, it serves a crucial point that these are truly God's forgotten creatures.
In Italian with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills