«Zero»: the time has (finally) come for Netflix to make a difference

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The first time that Antonio Dikele Distefano he thought of the first black superhero of Italian literature he had precise references in mind: a manga, Mob Psycho 100, of which he has always been a fan, and a film, Ferro 3 by Kim Ki-duk, which tells of a man who manages to blend into the homes of the rich as if he were a ninja. This is where the idea for the book was born I was never my age, defined in an interview with Set by Distefano as his least successful novel, and by Zero, the new original Italian series Netflix available from April 21st and highly anticipated for at least two reasons: for being the first to have almost completely involved second generation kids, Italian to the core, and to be the first to have a rider who, overnight, discovers that he can become what he thought he was all his life for anyone who passed by: invisible.

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The series, created by Fabula Pictures with the participation of Red Joint Film, starts, in fact, from Omar (played by the rookie Giuseppe Dave Seke, Paduan, very good), a boy who lives in the Barrio, one of the most multi-ethnic neighborhoods in Milan – threatened by a dangerous real estate group that tries to evict residents to raise the price of real estate – and who works hard, hoping to put aside enough money to move to Belgium and fulfill his dream of becoming a cartoonist. The fact that a black guy tries to make it as a manga artist is one of the elements on which the writer Distefano and the directors Paola Randi (who directed the first and third episodes), Mohamed Hossameldin (The second one), Margherita Ferri (fourth and fifth) ed Ivan Silvestrini (the sixth, seventh and eighth) insisted more: Zero it is, in fact, a series that tries to undermine certainties and to demonstrate that many of the preconceptions we have always had, perhaps even unconsciously, about the periphery and the communities that live there are inaccurate or completely invented. Through Omar the Invisible’s infatuation with Anna (Beatrice Grannò), an uptown white girl, beautiful and with the dream of becoming an architect, the theme of social classes, the limits between those who live on the border and those who, according to the anthropocentrism we studied at school, reside at the center of the universe. it is getting stronger, but no less stable.

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It is thanks to Omar’s new friends, blacks and inhabitants of the Barrio like him, that, in fact, Zero it takes yet another turn, showing us not only the dynamism and brotherhood that a neighborhood like the Barona is able to induce, but also that it is really true that unity is always strength. Once he discovers the power of becoming invisible, a faculty that Omar, known as Zero, will have to try to train for a good cause such as saving the neighborhood from unscrupulous real estate developers, the bonds that flood it show that friendship is the magic touch that is needed for the boy (but also to the neighborhood) to save himself. Together with Sharif (Haroun Fall, 25 years old, Turin, actor of the Experimental Center), Momo (Richard Dylan Magon, Palermo, rapper and R&B singer), Hymn (Madior Fall, born in Paris, former model of the companions of Emporio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana) and Sara (the talented Daniela Scattolin, Vicenza, perhaps the greatest revelation that Zero has given us despite things, including video clips and films like Tolo Tolo, has done several), Zero takes off and is enriched with ever richer elements that will lead the viewer to reflect on Omar’s childhood, on the strange power that seems to bind him to his sister Awa (Virginia Diop, already seen in fiction Beyond the threshold of Canale 5) and on the mysterious Virgin (an increasingly good Roberta Mattei which we will also see on Sky in Anna in the role of Picciridduna) and the treacherous Rico (Miguel Gobbo Diaz), two individuals who seem to know something our heroes ignore.

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“We didn’t want to tell about a predestined one, but about a hero forced to become one. It is the story of those who learn that the most important things that will save us are those that we keep invisible “ Distefano said during the press conference of Zero, escorted by the screenwriters Stefano Voltaggio (also Creative Executive Producer), Massimo Vavassori, Lisandro Monaco and Carolina Cavalli, and by the creator of the series Menotti, all focused on a primary objective: telling a story in which seeing a black person is no longer the exception, but the norm. “I am amazed that in the Italian series there is no representation of black or Chinese guys … Zero it is the beginning of a process of change “ Distefano resumed, convinced that the real turning point will come when it will be normal to have series like these. We from Vanity Fair on the other hand, we have often told how being able to be considered at a casting for a role other than that of the “foreigner” for a non-white actor is something difficult, if not impossible. The same protagonists of Zero, starting with Virginia Diop and Daniela Scattolin who we interviewed in the video at the top of the article, said they often had great difficulty in being taken seriously for parts that automatically excluded them as non-white: this is the most important revolution of which Zero must be the spokesperson. The development of the plot (by the way, the eight episodes end so abruptly that a second season is not only a must, but just as necessary as it was for Lupin), the locations between Milan and Barona and the soundtrack by Yakamoto Kotzuga which includes, among others, the hits of Madame, Ginevra, The Supreme, Emis Killa and Mahmood, who created an ad hoc song for the series, Zero, that we will listen to on his next album, they help, but the substance and the heart of the operation remain only one: the smile of all the second generation Netflix subscribers who perhaps, seeing Zero, they will finally be convinced that the audiovisual has noticed them.

Check out the Vanity Fair video interview with Daniela Scattolin, Beatrice Grannò and Virginia Dip, the protagonists of Zero >>

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