Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 92 minutes
Stranger Says: When 7-year-old Tito arrives on his uncle’s dusty doorstep with his older sister, Anita, the two quickly begin two galactic undertakings: learning to love a man they do not know and figuring out his secret, which has something to do with napping on a battered couch in the Nevada desert to “listen to the universe.” With a pleasant pace and affable charm, the film’s plot points are met with a stunning array of visual textures and richly layered effects that weave a surreal, disembodied, and otherworldly story that takes off into the infinite, and you with it.
SIFF Says:Inside a shipping container cluttered with electronics in the middle of the desert, a widowed Italian scientist known only “the Professor” (Valerio Mastandrea, THE PLACE) has been fiddling mysteriously with knobs, headphones, and antennae for years. Some say he’s contacting alien lifeforms, which is understandable given that he lives near Nevada’s infamous “Area 51.” The only conduit he has to the outside world is Stella (Clémence Poésy, the Harry Potter series), a nearby French ex-pat who entertains sci-fi enthusiasts with alien-themed weddings. The Professor’s extreme isolation is pierced when he receives a video from his brother in Naples, saying that he has died and is sending his two children, teenager Anita (Chiara Stella Riccio) and seven-year-old “Little Tito” (Luca Esposito), to live with the Professor. When the kids show up, expecting the glitz of Las Vegas and Lady Gaga, they are disappointed to find a crazy uncle in a lunar landscape. While Anita bonds with Stella and seeks escape, Tito is fascinated by his uncle’s gadgets and discovers that the Professor is obsessed not with contacting aliens but with something closer to home—the spirits of the dead. With Spain’s otherworldly Tabernas Desert standing in for Nevada, director Paola Randi’s LITTLE TITO reveals poignant truths about humanity’s need for contact right here on Earth.
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