“They messed up Ciro’s memory to attack me!”

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Many controversies arose around the film ‘Ultras‘, distributed by Netflix and which tells the story of a group of ultras Napoli fans. Director Francesco Lettieri intervened on social media, to clarify his position above all with reference to the controversy surrounding Ciro Esposito and the possible involvement of his story within the film: “Today, unfortunately, I find myself doing something that I never wanted to do. However, I feel compelled by the situation to respond to some criticisms and accusations on which I would have preferred to keep silent. I don’t talk much about those of the ultras, those I expected and they are there , although I always moved within the limits of respect and correctness: all the groups were informed of the existence of the film and all their requests were accepted, from that of not including logos, flags and slogans of the groups to that of changing the original title. All they asked me, I did. Some banners and murals that appeared shortly before the release of the film also made me smile with irony. Others, the more personal and vulgar ones, I found them disrespectful and insulting, but that’s also there.

The accusations I speak of are not even those according to which my film muddies the image of Naples and the Neapolitans. I have the feeling that most people who support this thesis have not even seen my film. The Naples of Ultras is never degraded, there is always the sea, the alleys of the center are full of tourists, Sandro, the protagonist, lives in Pozzuoli, in a neighborhood that looks like a village, even the outskirts of Angelo is not infamous and Monterusciello looks like a Parisian suburb. In the film there is no drug dealer, there is no gun, there is no theft. There is violence, yes, but there is also love and irony, there is humanity. In recent days I have received hundreds of messages from people who have written to me from Italy and abroad saying they want to visit Naples. Let’s stop self-flagellating and always be afraid of the judgment of others. Let’s stop thinking that people express a definitive judgment on a city and a culture on the basis of a film. For years Naples has been represented by Gomorrah and the city is full of tourists from all over the world.

What I am talking about, and which I find painful and senseless, are the accusations that my film refers to Ciro Esposito, a boy who is no longer with us. My hand is trembling just to write his name, because people who are no longer there should be left alone. But I am forced to respond to those who disturb the memory of a dead person to attack me.

Even before filming began, there was a rumor in Naples that someone was making a film about the story of Cyrus. At one point I was even convinced that someone else was making a film about ultras, but then I discovered that the film we were talking about was mine. The synopsis of the film, sent to some actor for auditions, had turned into word of mouth and had become that of a documentary on the death of Cyrus. Before the release, the film was sent to national and local newspapers. More than eighty journalists have received and seen the film and none of them have had any comments on the matter, except for a single case that found that the film instead contained an explicit reference to the story of Cyrus. Although I have personally replied on the merits, the pen in question has mobilized half Naples, even some fringes of the curve, blogs and local sites, creating a small vortex of anger and hatred before the film even came out.

After March 20, someone had the clarity to turn around and realize that the character of Sasà (a boy who died in the past in the clashes) who never appears in the film except on a mural in two shots, represents the martyr ultras, what every fan club commemorates. In Naples we have Ciro and Sergio, Lazio has Gabriele. Every supporter, from Serie A to excellence, has its innocent death and the Sasà of Ultras generically represents everyone but nobody in particular. Unfortunately some, driven by prejudice and the desire to fuel violence and misunderstandings, continued to see what they wanted.

I’m sorry because I worked so hard to make a sincere and correct film. But above all I feel sorry for Ciro. I believe that his memory and his family deserve not to be protagonists of this misunderstanding “.

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