// Presented as part of Filmatique's Opera Prima Italiana II Series //
Spotlight on Lo Chiamavano Jeeg Robot (They Call Me Jeeg)
Gabriele Mainetti / 2015, Venice, Bari, Fantasia, Giffoni, Imagine Film Fest Amsterdam, Ischia, Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival, Rome, Seattle / 112'
Enzo is a lonely thief living in present-day Rome. An escape from the police leads him into the Tiber, where he encounters radioactive waste that renders him dismally ill. He continues with his small-time crimes and before long realizes that he has gained superpowers from this fortuitous plunge into the river. Amid an alienated urban landscape gripped by fears of organized crime and terrorist plots, Enzo sets off in search of a crazy gangster called the Gypsy.
A gritty and absorbing Italian take on the superhero genre, Gabriele Mainetti's feature film debut premiered at Venice, Rome, Fantasia and Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival; Imagine Film Festival Amsterdam where it won the Silver Scream; and Bari, where it won Best Film in the First and Second Feature Competition. They Call Me Jeeg also won Best New Director and Best Supporting Actor from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists; Best Screenplay and Best New Director from FICE - Federazione Italiana Cinema d'Essai; and the David di Donatello Awards for Best New Director, Best Producer, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Editing.
"Italy finally has its very own superhero, and his capacity for mixing social critique with heroic feats is boundless. Gabriele Mainetti's thoroughly enjoyable, surprisingly plangent and gritty They Call Me Jeeg features a two-bit criminal loser who stumbles upon his powers… and learns to care about humanity thanks to a traumatized woman who's convinced he’s the Japanese manga character Steel Jeeg. Mainetti may be a novice helmer but there's no trace of the beginner here, with style and execution earning top marks along with modest yet well-handled f/x. The real standout, though, is how he combines superhero tropes with Italian social and political ills"
- Jay Weissberg, Rome Review, Variety