AKA: L’uomo con il mio nome
Director: Simon O’Neill
Writer: Simon O’Neill
Starring: Simon O’Neill, Ruggero Deodato, Luigi Cozzi, Catriona MacColl
Irish writer/director Simon O’Neill investigates the career of the only Simon O’Neill more popular than him on the IMDB – who just so happens to be the Italian scriptwriter Giovanni Simonelli.
After a brief introduction on who he is (he’s Simon O’Neill) and who the other Simon O’Neil’s are on IMDB we get started with a whistle-stop tour of some of the career highlights from Italian scriptwriter Giovanni Simonelli aka Simon O’Neill.
This straightforward opening sets out the premise quite clearly, instantly drawing loose comparisons to the British TV series ‘ARE YOU DAVE GORMAN?’, but although THE MAN WITH MY NAME is centred around this novel concept it is certainly not limited to it.
With the purpose of this documentary now explained we take to the road in a bid to hunt down more information on Simonelli, beginning in the most unlikely of places – Luton!
Here Simon meets a talkative Ruggero Deodato and they discuss not only the translation of an Irish name but also the use of pseudonyms in the Italian industry during the sixties and seventies. This is an area we all know a bit about but in my opinion is never discussed enough, and so it is a pleasant surprise that this topic forms a significant part of the documentary as Catriona MacColl, Luigi Cozzi and (archive footage of) Antonio Margheriti, a frequent collaborator of Giovanni Simonelli, all go on to discuss the necessity of changing one’s name in order to boost the chances of success, be it with English-speaking audiences or even Italian.
On an unrelated note, one thing that does come across during the discussion with Luigi Cozzi, is how alive he becomes when talking about film and the industry. As always he is captivating and so easy to listen to, cementing his place as one of the sweetest guys in horror and sci-fi.
Back to the documentary and at this point it is in danger of being sidetracked away from the actual premise but through a Simonelli related story, Cozzi brings things full circle and we are back on track.
Lead first by some archive footage of the man himself, the late Giovanni Simonelli, we are soon joined by his son who seems genuinely surprised and curious that a random Irish man was making a short film about his father.
Although clearly shot on a very low budget, THE MAN WITH MY NAME works not just on an endearing labour of love level but because, no doubt thanks to Simon O’Neill’s professional experience, it provides a tightly edited and terrifically structured look at both an unsung member of the Italian b-movie scene and also the nuances of working in the fringes of Italian cinema as the brief running time touches on additional topics such as the anglicising of names and the disdain of native audiences for the work of their own countrymen. It is also refreshing for once to not have the subject as a Dario Argento or a Lucio Fulci, but rather someone who perhaps is not well known even though their films are.
A celebration of Italian b-movies and those who helped bring them to us, THE MAN WITH MY NAME is light-hearted, fun and guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of fans of Italian genre cinema. Admittedly for some this may come across as too lightweight, but it was never meant to be a detailed analysis and should not be judged as such.
Sure if it had bigger budget then it would look more polished and ok it could have featured more clips and longer interviews but that is not what this is necessarily about nor is it really in the spirit of what I believe Simon O’Neill set out to achieve.
The Man with My Name is currently on the festival circuit. Find out more information on the official website.
An online screener of the film.