Films & Schedules
  • La Pivellina

  • Tizza Covi

  • Rainer Frimmel

Country: Austria
100 minutes


Friday September 1104:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Buy Now
Thursday September 1709:30PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2 Buy Now
Saturday September 1905:30PM VARSITY 5 Buy Now
Description Credits


In an impoverished trailer park on the outskirts of Rome, a small band of social outcasts eke out an existence in the dreary Italian winter. Circus performers Patty (Patrizia Gerardi) and Walter (Walter Saabel) wait patiently for the summer to come, until one day Patty finds a small two-year-old girl standing alone in the rain in a suburban park. Kindly Patty brings little Asia (Asia Crippa) home to get dry. While undressing la pivellina (the little one), as she is later nicknamed, Patty discovers a note saying the foundling will be picked up in due course by her troubled mother.

Filmmaking duo Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, whose previous non-narrative documentary Babooska also transpired in and around the circus, insert an angelic child into a drab trailer-park community and fervently capture the results. The chemistry is instantaneous as sunny Asia lights up the performers' idle winter, which largely consists of working on upcoming acts and worrying about mounting expenses. The mumbling toddler makes a mother out of everyone, from weary adults to sprightly teenagers, as she trips over circus paraphernalia like a tiny Charlie Chaplin and nestles against weathered shoulders.

Nothing about this twilight world is contrived: Patty is a real circus mama with an authentic Anna Magnani temperament; her husband, Walter, is a displaced German clown with a permanent frown; and thirteen-year-old Tairo (Tairo Caroli), their next-door neighbour, was dumped on his tough-as-nails grandmother. Though blood relations count for very little in this hibernating world, togetherness is the order of the day. The job of shopping for the baby is assigned to a stumbling Tairo, pulled out of bed at the crack of dawn, with expenses to be covered by a disapproving, police-fearing Walter, and tenderness to be supplied by all.

Cinéma-vérité devotees Covi and Frimmel work with available light and minimum resources, dividing all equipment equally between themselves. Their non-intrusive camera shares in moments of genuine joy, pulling the audience in completely, until a letter announces the final countdown. The little one will be picked up in two days. Dare they hope?

Dimitri Eipides

Tizza Covi was born in Bolzano, Italy, and Rainer Frimmel was born in Vienna. They both studied photography at the Graphische Lehranstalt in Vienna, then founded the independent film production company Vento Film. Together they directed the feature documentaries That's All (01) and Babooska (05). La Pivellina (09) is their first fiction feature.

Cadillac People's Choice Award