The Red Pimpernel (first feature)

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The Red Pimpernel (Primula Rossa)

The Red Pimpernel (Primula Rossa)

original title:

Primula Rossa

directed by:


Massimo Barilla, Angelo Righetti


set design:

Giuppi Sindoni, Aldo Zucco, Giuseppe Intersimone

costume design:

Francesca Gambino


Fondazione di Comunità di Messina, Radical Plans, Fondazione Horcynus Orca, Ecos-Med, Talento Dinamico, Ecosmedia





film run:



HD - colour

aspect ratio:


release date:


In 1978, Italy was the first country in the world to enact a law requesting the closure of Psychiatric Hospitals. The Hospitals for the Criminally Insane remained nonetheless operational and were closed only thirty years later.
Their closure though didn’t result in overcoming total institutions, that still exist today under the name of Residences for the Execution of Safety Measures (REMS).
The narration, inspired by true stories and combining fiction and documentary, demonstrates that new paths are possible...

The film, explicitly inspired by true stories, is an opportunity to retrace some crucial moments of the recent Italian history, from the “Years of Lead”, to the cultural revolution that led to the enactment of the Basaglia Law and the closure of Psychiatric Hospitals, to the profound human crisis of the Hospitals for the Criminally Insane.
The film shows how Ezio, Ennio as a fictional character (Salvatore Arena), and the other people interned in the Hospitals for the Criminally Insane find a possibility to communicate with Lucio (Davide Coco), the psychiatrist who embodies the will to find new paths, because authentic humanity can overcome all differences, every border and distance. A shared and long-lasting project for a freed life becomes possible only when alternative, warm, inclusive and fertile socio-economical projects are created, far from mafias and with the most marginalized individuals as their cornerstones.
Discreetly explicit here is the reference to the paradigmatic example of Fondazione di Comunità di Messina and its Evolved Social District, today considered as one of the most advanced and innovative experiences of human local development in Europe.
Lucio and the new world that he encounters represent the great transforming potential that emerges when the human, professional and economic resources of a community are used not to control, lock up and keep the others secluded, but to help them live, work and inhabit a chosen place.
In the film two paths intertwine: one is composed by the archive material showing how fear, stigma and economical egoism perpetuate old and new forms of total institutions. The other is composed by the fiction parts and narrates how in Italy research and experimentation of new, fully human solutions to give citizenship rights back to weak people excluded from society has never ceased since the late 70s. The end of the docu fiction shows that these solutions, respectful of the dignity of every human being, are not only are possible, but also true!