On Everyone’s Skin: The Story Of Stefano Cucchi

“On My Skin” is like a punch in the gut, a direct but necessary movie

Some chocolate.

This is the last wish of a suffering Alessandro Borghi in the guise of Stefano Cucchi, lying face down to stand the pain, in the bullpen of Sandro Pertini Hospital in Rome. This is also the last sequence that sees Stefano alive: the young Roman will be found dead by a nurse on the next day. That exact moment is the beginning of a judicial proceeding that, to this day, hasn’t come yet to its conclusion.

However, for the last ten years, there’s been a lot of talk about Stefano Cucchi, thanks to the fight for justice led through difficulties by his family, who has never stopped seeking the truth. Precisely that denied truth, on which the tough movie directed by Alessio Cremonini “Sulla mia pelle” (On My Skin) tries to shed light, recounting the last few days of Stefano’s life, with the impressive performance of the actors Alessandro Borghi, Jasmine Trinca, Max Tortora and Milva Marigliano.

The film, released exclusively on Netflix on 12 September, was also shown in some cinemas across Italy, meeting with great success.

Despite the long applause in front of a moved Ilaria Cucchi at the Venice Film Festival seemed to be a good omen, I was surprised when, going to the movies, I found a room full of people of different ages. Many young people and some more grown up persons. But what has especially struck me was seeing a woman trying to explain to her elderly parents why it is important to tell and understand the story of Stefano Cucchi. Because conscience must not forget. Especially collective conscience.

A necessary film

On My Skin is like a direct but necessary punch in the gut.

The story of Stefano Cucchi is one of those still bleeding open wounds that need to be retold over and over again to be actually realized. One of those stories for which you hope there is a different ending, but you know that, inevitably, it cannot be so. One of those things that need to be remembered at all costs.

The case of Stefano Cucchi lasted almost ten years, a decade of hidden truths and denied justice. On the one hand, the family has never stopped seeking the truth, thanks to the strength and determination of his sister, Ilaria. On the other hand, the State, increasingly weaker and smaller, disappeared behind the excuses used to protect those who, from its ranks, were not able to respect the most basic rules of common life.

Of course, Stefano was an addict. It’s true. Stefano not only was a junkie, but also a small drug dealer who had not lost the habit of certain dangerous vices, despite the years spent in rehab. Stefano was a last who died a last at the hand of a State that should have rehabilitated him and that instead compelled him to die in complete solitude. The same State that covered who, hidden behind a badge, beated Stefano to hell.

However, Stefano is also a symbol. The symbol of all those invisibles who have been through this madness without coming back (only in 2009, the year Stefano died, there have been 172 victims in detention).

Who is Stefano Cucchi?

Stefano Cucchi was a 31 years old Roman surveyor, deceased on 22 October 2009 while he was taken into custody. Seven days before, Stefano was arrested following a search during which he was found in possession of some bricks of hashish. Then, the complete darkness descended on his fate until the day his death was ascertained, when the family could finally see the body of their son torn apart by bruises.

The story of Stefano would have probably faded away as those of many others, if it weren’t for that famous picture of his mangled body taken by his sister Ilaria. The same picture which allowed to shed light on his case.

Nonetheless, the trial that should have brought justice to Stefano has been troubled right away. The first hearing, with some prison officers and doctors and nurses of Sandro Pertini Hospital among the defendants, resulted in their acquittal. For the courts, Stefano died by himself.

Thanks to the persistance of his family and of the lawyer Fabio Anselmo, but also to the testimonies of a policeman and some detainees, on 27 September a new lawsuit started with the five carabinieri who detained the young man in the dock, some of them charged with involuntary manslaughter, others with forgery of processual documents.

Unfortunately, Stefano will no longer be able to eat chocolate. However, he and all the other silent Stefano can still take back the justice and the humanity that we all owe them.