Il Moro – The Moor | How Director Daphne Di Cinto Used Her Oscar-Contending Short Film To Retell Italian History

The stunning and thought-provoking short film directed by Daphne Di Cinto is gaining remarkable traction with a successful festival run. Sights are now set on the 2024 Academy Awards as a US university tour begins.

by GRIOT - Published on 05/12/2023
Il Moro - The Moor. Acotrs Alberto Boubakar Malanchino and Paolo Sassanelli. COURTESY

The Moor (Il Moro) is an intriguing short film that shines light on the first Duke of Florence Alessandro de’ Medici, first man of African descent to become a head of State in Renaissance Europe, which is currently in consideration for the 96th Academy Awards in the Best Live Action Short Film Category.

Writer-Director-Producer Daphne Di Cinto marvelled when, upon visiting Alessandro de’ Medici’s tomb in Florence, she found no indications of his name: not in front of it, nor in the rest of the Chapel. So she decided to take action. Her action ultimately resulted in repairing this omission.

Il Moro – The Moor. Alberto Boubakar Malanchino. Photo: Resina. COURTESY

But let’s take one step back.

The famous Cappelle Medicee in the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence, is the resting place of the illustrious Medici family, visited by thousands of tourists every day. The most famous Medici are buried inside the beautiful Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy) designed by Michelangelo. This is where you’ll find Lorenzo the Magnificent’s tomb, his brother Giuliano’s and Alessandro de’ Medici’s, who after being assassinated in January 1537, was thrown in the tomb of his official father, Lorenzo Duke of Urbino and left there ever since.

If you visited the chapel let’s say on October 1st 2023, unless you personally knew the story, you wouldn’t have known that Alessandro de’ Medici rested there: while all other Medici men have their names written in front of their tombs, you wouldn’t have found Alessandro’s name mentioned anywhere. “I didn’t understand why you could find information about everybody else, but not on Alessandro de’ Medici. He held a very important position at his time. Why was his memory still being erased?” says Di Cinto, who has visited the Chapel many times as she was writing the short film Il Moro, her directorial debut. “My film tells the story of a real Black Italian Duke, but at the same time it tells the story of the Afro-Italian and Afro-European communities, of our continued presence within the history of our continent and of how that presence has been swept under the rug.”

Il Moro – The Moor. Director Daphne Di Cinto with actors Andrea Melis (left) Alberto Boubakar Malanchino (center), Paolo Sassanelli (right). Photo: Resina. COURTESY

After the short film started gaining recognition in the festival circuit, Di Cinto wrote a petition letter to the Council of Florence, asking them to recognise Alessandro’s name in the Medici Chapel. The petition, presented through the councillors Antonella Bundu and Dimitri Palagi was officially accepted on November 4th 2022, but it took a whole year before it came into effect.

Finally in November 2023, fresh of a revamp that updated most of the tourists information panels in the place, the Cappelle Medicee presents one panel in front of Alessandro’s resting place that finally mentions his name.

Il Moro – The Moor

Il Moro – The Moor has had a significant impact on many types of audiences. While it has become a reference within the Afro-European community, it has found favour among an audience of mixed backgrounds, ages and genders across both Europe and the USA. Di Cinto’s work seems to have pleased also the toughest audience when it comes to period
dramas: Academia, specifically historians and art historians. “Il Moro is sensitive and moving, captures the transformation of a young man into the first Early Modern Black ruler”, comments Medici expert and art historian Elizabeth Pilliod. She continues: “It is visually richly textured, with beautiful imagery from damask-covered interiors to haunting portraits of Alessandro’s ancestors. The actor portraying the soon-to-be Duke strongly resembles the historical portraits of the young Duke.”

Actor Alberto Boubakar Malanchino next to portrait of Alessandro de Medici. COURTESY

Il Moro – The Moor showcases a cast and crew that beautifully reflects Italy’s current diversity, aiming “to be an ode to self-love for Black-Italians, Afropeans and the African
diaspora, a reminder that we are an integral part of European history beyond the way it has portrayed us up until now”, as said by Di Cinto.

The film has received awards and recognition at various festivals, including Best Short Film at the Italian Black Movie Awards and Best Short Narrative Award at the Oscar Qualifying Reel Sisters Film Festival. Il Moro‘s compelling storytelling, outstanding cast, and thoughtful direction make it a strong contender in the upcoming 2024 Awards Race.

BIO

Daphne Di Cinto is a Black Italian screenwriter, director and actor based in London. She began her film and theatre studies in Rome, while getting her degree in Communication Science at Roma Tre University. She attended the faculty of cinema at Sorbonne University in Paris before moving to New York for her Master in Fine Arts at the
Actors Studio Drama School. Di Cinto played the Duchess of Hastings in the Netflix series Bridgerton and, while developing a series based on the life of Alessandro de’ Medici, she wrote, directed and produced The Moor ( Il Moro), her directorial debut, which has garnered success both in the festival circuit and in prestigious academic institutions.
She received the Cultured Focus Visionary in Film Award during the 79th Venice Film Festival and the Leader of Change in Creativity Award at the 2023 Black Carpet Awards.

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