This is not the Italy of Pixar’s Luca or Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. Packed concrete apartments are separated by narrow streets in Naples’ Spanish Quarters, where young people are trapped in generational cycles of crime. In response, the Italian authorities remove high-risk children from their families, as in the case of our protagonist Entoni after he accidentally sets fire to a car. He is the grandson of Dora, who believes she began the family’s brushes with the law and has passed it down the family tree.

Director Victoria Fiore grew up in a similar neighbourhood. Her affinity for those affected by these self-perpetuating behaviours is the driving force behind Hide and Seek, a documentary that uses its characters to speak out from within the troubled area, putting faces to statistics. She uses recreations and staged conversations to convey the truth at the heart of the film, but this sometimes leads to confusion over the reality of what is shown, the line between documenting and storytelling not always clear.

It is heartbreaking in its presentation of Entoni, a free-spirited child who never stood a chance. With his father in prison and an equally lawless best friend, the inevitable plays out as social workers try to tame him. His youthful face darkens too soon as the stresses of law enforcement and a smoking habit plague his early adolescence. He dreams of becoming an actor, but now stars in a movie about his impending incarceration.

Meanwhile his grandma speaks from a place of experience, often presented meditating on Entoni’s poor fortune and her own childhood. She can see what is ahead for the young boys in her family, conflicted over her own past behaviour but regretful of how it has affected the course of other people’s lives.

An effective and affecting documentary that occasionally suffers from its undefined separation of reality and recreation, Hide and Seek gives a voice back to those stuck in endless crime.



DIRECTOR: Victoria Fiore

SYNOPSIS: Among the narrow streets of contemporary Naples, Hide and Seek follows four years in the life of nine-year-old Entoni and his grandmother Dora during a critical state crackdown on crime that threatens Entoni’s future with forced removal and imprisonment.