Every year, inmates at Rome’s Rebibbia prison perform a well-known play. At the request of the elderly filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, they sank their teeth into Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a classic filled with treachery and intrigue, where the Roman emperor comes to a bloody end. The actors—convicted for all manner of crime, organized or not—seem to have no problem fully inhabiting their characters.
Just how successful they were is revealed at the start of the film, in which we see the dramatic closing scene from the performance. From there, we take a leap back in time, to the beginnings of the production. There’s a shift from color to black-and-white, and we follow the process from audition to rehearsal in high-contrast, stage-lit scenes. Fiction and reality collide and the prison becomes an oppressive, theatrical environment.
In this, the autumn of their career, the already multi-award-winning Taviani brothers won the Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlinale.