The Italian Almanac

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Gabriele Muccino

Italian News - June 3

One of Italy's most talented young directors is hoping his European take on the American Dream will be the making of star actor Will Smith's next film.

Gabriele Muccino has spent the last 10 months in the United States filming The Pursuit of Happyness, a rags-to-riches drama featuring not only America's box-office magnet Smith but also his seven-year-old son Jaden. Shot in San Francisco, the 60-million-dollar picture revolves around the true-life story of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who dragged himself and his child out of poverty to become a hugely wealthy stock broker.

The Columbia Pictures movie hits the screens next December, marking a rare mega-budget American debut for an Italian director. Muccino, who has won a string of awards for his past work including Italy's equivalent of the Oscar, told that his approach to the all-American tale was largely inspired by Italian neorealist cinema.

He said this influence, as well as his European background, had allowed him to portray the precariousness of the American social system in ways which a home-born director might have overlooked or been immune to. "It's a very daring story about the American struggle, about survival in a country where it's very difficult to stay afloat," Muccino said.