The Best Reward (first feature)

original title:

La cosa migliore

directed by:


Apapaja, Les films d’Antoine, Janaprod, supported by Ministero della Cultura, with the support of Centre cinématographique marocain, with the support of Emilia-Romagna Film Commission








Development/Pre-production (03/01/2024)

Mattia is a 17-year-old boy. Raised in industrial northern Italy, an area with a profound identity crisis, he is the son of a trade unionist and a housewife. Intelligent, hypersensitive and fragile, he has a difficult relationship with his family and struggles to find his place in society. The death of his elder brother gives rise to a period of profound change in his life: the decision to leave school, beginning work at a local factory, his conversion to Islam and his progressive radicalisation. In his search for meaning, Mattia wavers between the prospect of a normal life and the one of an alternative. Step by step, almost without realising it, he goes down the path towards progressive isolation, until he finally makes the decision to leave for Syria, where a group of armed jihadists is waiting for him.

In recent years, many young people have left their lives in the West to go and fight with jihadist groups in the Middle East. We hear a lot about “radicalisation” and foreign fighters, but little about the profound personal motivations behind these choices. Maybe in part due to the fear of finding something terribly human and universal there. We all have a dose of rage and dissatisfaction inside of us, a need for belonging and a certain level of repressed violence. So why do most people go down an ordinary path, while others make such radical choices?
The film does not attempt to explain such a complex phenomenon, just tell the story of one of these people. Not his life as a jihadist, but the two years leading up to his decision to leave. Mattia’s is the story of a young man raised in a non-religious Italian working-class family; neither stupider nor more violent than the average, and maybe actually more intelligent and sensitive.
The film unfolds entirely through his eyes: his anger, his insecurities and his genuine feelings of injustice. Experiencing his drift towards radicalism in the first person, the audience will not share in his decision. But maybe they will feel that this choice is, for a restless adolescent, the wrong answer to the right questions.