LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - ROME - Noted Italian director Sebastiano Riso was the victim of a homophobic attack in Rome shortly after his film A Family opened theatrically in Italy. The movie, which recently competed at the Venice Film Festival, tells the story of a heterosexual couple who supplies children to gay couples.
Riso was attacked Monday afternoon as he entered his Rome apartment by two men who punched him in the face and stomach while hurling anti-gay insults. Riso, who suffered multiple abdominal and eye injuries, is now in the city's Fatebenefratelli hospital, where doctors said he would stay for 10 days, according to daily newspaper La Repubblica.
In a statement Tuesday, Riso said he was struck in the face, stomach and chest. "Yesterday I was hit three times, and I feel it is a threefold attack [against me]: as a homosexual, as a director and as a person," he noted.
"As a homosexual because, while I was being hit, they addressed me with homophobic insults. As a director because the insults referred to the themes I deal with in my latest film, such as the possibility for gay couples to form their own family, and because the violence was perpetrated against my inclination to express myself through my work," he added.
"Despite the fear and rage that I still feel...I am sure I will continue to do that [express myself] the same way and even more than before," Riso said.
The film's producers, Indiana Production and Rai Cinema, and distributor Bim Distribuzione, a unit of France's Wild Bunch, have also issued statements voicing concern. Indiana's statement said that the gravity of the violence "must not underestimated."
A Family, which is Riso's sophomore work, has been praised by Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera as a "mature" work on a "sensitive subject." Same-sex marriage and child adoptions by gay couples are hot-button issues in Italy, where they are not allowed.
Watch a scene clip from 'A Family' (no subtitles)