Alessandro Borghi in "Sulla mia pelle" (On My Skin) (2018)

Alessandro Borghi in On My Skin (Sulla mia pelle) (2018)

Sulla Mia Pelle (On My Skin) reconstructs the events surrounding the death of Stefano Cucchi, a youngster taken into custody by the Italian military police (Carabinieri) in Rome, in 2008. Only recently, ten years after the mysterious events, and thanks to the relentless militancy and campaigning by his sister Ilaria, the truth about Cucchi’s death was unveiled, uncovering a major case of police brutality, corruption and cover-up. In Italy, the Cucchi case has become no less shocking and political than the Rodney King one in the U.S.

The film was written and directed by Alessio Cremonini. Cucchi is played by Alessandro Borghi, while Ilaria Cucchi is played by Jasmine Trinca. The film enjoyed a very high-profile and acclaimed debut at the Venice Film Festival winning the Arca Cinema Giovani Award as Best Italian Film, the FIDAC Award for Best Director (Cremonini), and the Pasinetti Award for Best Actors (Borghi and Trinca). Sulla mia pelle opened in Italian theaters distributed by Lucky Red right after the festival and began streaming worldwide on Netflix on September 12, 2018.

Set in suburban Rome, the film opens with Cucchi’s arrest for drug possession and suspected dealing. What follows is a grueling, gritty, claustrophobic thriller, boosted by brilliant performances and with a neo-realistic approach. The Carabinieri always denied any wrongdoing during the first hours of Cucchi's arrest and the ensuing interrogation. Cucchi, who was found in possession of hashish, cocaine and a drug for epilepsy, died a week later while in custody in the Roman prison of Regina Coeli. He was clearly injured during the interrogation, and yet he denied (“I fell from the stairs”, he kept saying during those days). Apparently, he was coerced and forced to sign a false report under duress and intimidation.

“The truth finally came out,” says director/writer Cremonini. “It took ten years of valiant effort by the Cucchi family, mainly the amazingly combative Ilaria. A grass-roots movement was born in Rome and Italy to finally extract the truth about Stefano's death from the corrupted muddy waters of cover-up and complacency in law enforcement and the (...) Carabinieri. Heads will roll. (It is) an embarrassment for the upper echelons of the country and a painful tragedy for a man and his family. And yet, from this ten-year cavalry carried on by Ilaria, everybody will come out a little cleaner, hopefully,” says Cremonini.