Posted: 03/20/2012


Little Girl (La Pivellina)

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Little Girl (La Pivellina) is the story of a gypsy woman who lives in Rome and comes upon a young girl around the age of two at the neighborhood park. The lady, Aunt Patty, takes the girl in, after she finds a note from the girl’s mother asking for someone to care for her until she returns. The girl’s name is Asia, it is believed, and she is such a precious young girl that any family who took her in couldn’t help but be enriched by her presence.

First Run Features presents Little Girl, which is the winner of 30 awards in festivals around the world.

Bathed in the neorealist tradition of Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica, Little Girl is a captivating tale of people at the margins of society who open their hearts to a stranger. You would think that Aunt Patty and her vivid red hair wouldn’t have an ounce of anything to give to Asia, who is played by Asia Crippa. She lives in a rundown trailer park, barely able to feed herself, but she finds it in her heart to love her and care for her, all the while wondering where the young girl’s mother has gone.

Aunt Patty and her husband are circus performers, and after a while he has to take a job away from home in order to put food on the table. He is more concerned that they will be discovered or that something will happen to the toddler and they will be held accountable.
The note in the child’s pocket from the mother reveals little about whom she is or why she was abandoned. But the girl is so beautifully intelligent, she wins everyone to her side.

As the bond grows between the girl and her surrogate family, this naturalistic drama becomes a revealing and soulful portrait of courage and discrimination, and of loss and togetherness. Little Girl is such a captivating movie, Asia steals and warms the movie viewer’s heart, and the dedication and love that a family living on the fringes of society has for a stranger are too compelling to ignore. I was pulled in until the end, where I waited and waited, just as Aunt Patty, her husband and neighbor boy waited and waited for a happy reunion.

Little Girl is available on DVD from First Run Features March 20. For information, visit

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago, who also serves as a news editor for

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