• Golden Globe Awards

They Call Me Jeeg (Italy)

They Call Me Jeeg (Lo Chiamavano Jeeg Robot in the original Italian), the first feature length film by Gabriele Mainetti (known for animation shorts), is a singular object, a blend of superhero fantsy and gritty Neorealism in the mold of De Sica or Rossellini. You could venture to call it Bicycle Thieves with superpowers.In a contemporary Rome stricken by a series of bizarre terrorist attacks, the ever-broke and destitute Enzo Ceccotti (played by Claudio Santamaria), is anything but heroic. One day, after stealing a wrist watch and being pursued by police, Enzo tries to escape by diving from a barge moored on the Tiber river. He has no idea about the leaky canisters of toxic waste which have been dumped in the very same spot. He's eventually able to elude the police, but not the effects of the mystery substance. In the tradition of a good comic book, he develops super powers and becomes a sort of Toxic Avenger – a lone crusader against the organized crime which rules a chaotic, violent Rome.Mainetti works within the B-movie and Manga aesthetics while staying true to the characters uniquely Roman traits. In Jeeg he has forged a film with mass audience appeal while paying homage to De Sica and Rossellini's Cinecitta'-era pictures. Rome is not only the backdrop to Enzo/Jeeg Robot’s exploits, it plays a pivotal role in the narrative, with its close portrait of the capital city itself, its mean streets, the peculiar language, costumes and idiosyncrasies. Says director Mainetti: "Enzo is a pet criminal in a riotous Rome, a real Suburra. At the same time he’s a true superhero in that the fortuitous acquisition of his powers will change his life as well as the lives of many other people, in a positive way.""Yet I don't feel this film is necessarily a comic book movie," Mainetti adds. "The object of this film is the chance to tell a real story in which we can add a fantasy elements, and utilize that angle to evoke a dreamy atmosphere, a memory, an epiphany." Why the title, we ask him? "It's a reference to the cartoon of the same name that is Enzo's obsession," explains Mainetti. "Jeeg is a real creation by Japanese Manga master Hiroshi  and has a secret power that allows him to pilot a robot, but it also represents a coming of age story  about the awareness of your own powers. Enzo, naive as he is, is a grown up Roman Peter Pan,  sort of Alberto Sordi's prodigal son, with a social conscience."