Mixed by Erry – Dare to Dream

TORONTO – “Things don’t have to be standardized. Everyone is searching for something and chasing your dream is a little easier when you think outside the box”Italian Film Director Sydney Sibilia 

This is how Mixed by Erry’s Co-Writer/Director buoyantly describes its main theme, although some context might prompt further reflection. The film depicts the real life story of three brothers pirating music to become Italy’s top performing record label. The biopic blurs the line between ambition and greed, ingenuity and opportunism, aspiration and reckless ambition. The murky morality of not only our protagonists but also the way in which they’re pursued and exploited by law enforcement, Mafia and Big Corporations is another overarching theme presented in the film.

“Mixed by Erry” is the true story of three brothers from the Forcella neighbourhood in Naples who sold millions of counterfeit cassettes from the 70’s to the 90’s, becoming a multi-million dollar [piracy] record label. The youngest brother’s elusive dream of becoming a DJ is the catalyst for their dubious journey as music producers. When Enrico, or “Erry” is denied a deejaying slot at the local nightclub, the venue’s Manager advises Erry to keep his day job. The reason: Erry “lacks style and internationality”. With his dream effectively squelched, and his day job taken from him shortly thereafter, Erry turns a cassette-recording hobby into a massive commercial enterprise.

The filmmakers expertly handle the sometimes-small difference between what is legal and illegal, never reducing the characters to cursory or one-dimensional archetypes. Though the brothers’ adolescent charm instantly endears the viewer, their hubris is almost always on full display, steering audiences from making facile comparisons to mythical figures like Robin Hood.

The morally grey areas inherent in the world of big business are also highlighted in a particular scene, performed by Fabrizio Gifuni, whose character’s soliloquy perfectly captures Mankind’s ever-present struggle with greed. When a large Audio Media Company lands an exclusive deal to supply the brothers with blank cassettes, the Company’s Director Arturo Barambani (Gifuni) delivers a poignant speech about the almighty dollar. When a colleague reminds Arturo that the boys are running an illegal operation, Arturo quickly offers this retort “We don’t know anything, we didn’t talk about it. And also Carlo, what the hell, we sell blank cassettes. They’re supposed to use them aren’t they? Actually do you want the honest truth? To me for 15 billion lire a year they could poach all the elephants in the world. They could construct fields of landmines; enrich all the uranium on planet Earth. I don’t give a shit!”

Mixed by Erry is often reminiscent of some of the best American crime dramas – such as “Blow”, “War Dogs” and “Wolf of Wall Street”. It’s a provocative film packaged to entertain general audiences, and manages to do it with style and internationality – and with significantly less money. The film’s budget was €8.5M, less than a third of what the aforementioned American films spent on their productions – but no less entertaining. Director Sydney Sibilia being a native of Salerno Campania clearly took the film’s message to heart when setting off to make “Mixed by Erry”. With a limited budget and unknown Actors (outside of Italy) Sibilia and his co-collaborators would’ve had to innovate and think outside the proverbial box. And so they did. Now they have a hit film on Netflix whose actors may well become more international by consequence…of following a dream.

In the photos, two images from the film “Mixed by Erry”

Massimo Volpe is a filmmaker and freelance writer from Toronto: he writes reviews of Italian films/content on Netflix