Comandante directed by Edoardo De Angelis
Comandante directed by Edoardo De Angelis (Credit: Enrico De Luigi)

Comandante, directed by Edoardo De Angelis and starring Pierfrancesco Favino, is the new opening film, a world premiere in Competition, of the 80th Venice International Film Festival.

Challengers, the movie by Luca Guadagnino that had previously been announced, will not participate at the Festival following a decision made by the production.

Says Edoardo De Angelis, “It is a great honor for us to open the 80th Venice Film Festival and we thank the director, Barbera. Comandante is a movie that talks about strength and Salvatore Todaro personifies its sublime form: to fight the enemy without ever forgetting they are human beings. Ready to defeat them but also to rescue them and save their lives, as prescribed by the law of the sea. Because this is the way it has always been done and always will be done.”

Pierfrancesco Favino in Comandante directed by Edoardo De Angelis
Pierfrancesco Favino in Comandante directed by Edoardo De Angelis (Credit: Enrico De Luigi)

Set at the start of WWII, Salvatore Todaro commands the Italian Royal Navy submarine Cappellini. One dark night in October 1940, while navigating in the Atlantic, he comes upon an armed merchant ship sailing with lights out. He shoots his cannons at the ship and sinks it. At that moment, the Commander makes a decision that was destined to go down in history: he saves the 26 shipwrecked Belgians who otherwise would have drowned in the middle of the ocean and disembarks them at the nearest safe harbor, as prescribed by the law of the sea. To make room for them on board his submarine, he is forced to navigate on the surface of the water for three days, visible to the enemy forces and endangering his life and that of his men.

Edoardo De Angelis is a director, screenwriter, and producer; he was born in Naples in 1978. He debuted with Mozzarella Stories (2011), followed by Perez (2014). He made his reputation with Indivisibili (2016), presented at the Venice Film Festival’s Giornate degli Autori. His next movies were Il vizio della Speranza (2018), which received the Audience Award at the Rome Film Fest, and three movies for Rai based on works by Eduardo De Filippo, Natale in Casa Cupiello, Non ti pago, and Sabato, Domenica e Lunedì. In 2022, he directed the TV series La vita bugiarda degli adulti, based on the same-titled novel by Elena Ferrante and produced by Fandango for Netflix.

“In the frame of period films, on which Italian cinema has invested considerable production resources, Edoardo De Angelis’ movie reverberates with unambiguously contemporary echoes,” declares festival Director Alberto Barbera. “The true story of Commander Salvatore Todaro, who saved the lives of enemy sailors who had survived the sinking of their merchant ship – endangering the safety of his own submarine and his men – is a powerful call for the need to place the values of ethics and human solidarity before the brutal logic of military protocol. I thank the author, the producers Nicola Giuliano and Pier Paolo Verga, and Paolo Del Brocco with Rai Cinema for having accepted our invitation to inaugurate the 80th Film Festival of the Biennale di Venezia.”

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