The singer Mahmood, who is collaborating with the series Rajel, in a promotional video posted on YouTube | Photo: EPA/Archive
The singer Mahmood, who is collaborating with the series Rajel, in a promotional video posted on YouTube | Photo: EPA/Archive

What is life like for the children of migrants in Italy? That's the focus of a new web series, which tells the stories of young second-generation immigrants. The goal: To fight prejudice and stereotypes.

Rajel is a dramedy centerered on the character Raf (Lafrindi), a young Muslim son of immigrants and a hardheaded rebel. After being caught stealing with a group of acquaintances, he is let out on parole and becomes involved in the  production of a TV show. His life becomes entwined with those of the youths and adults that he meets on the set.

A coming-of-age story

The web series has four episodes, which are released weekly. The first episode was released on Youtube on July 9.

"Rajel is above all a coming-of-age story," Andrea Brunuetti -- who directed the series -- said. "We hope that the characters have universal resonance."

There were over 1.3 million second-generation minors in Italy, as of 2018. "These youths should be seen as a resource for the country and not a problem," the director said.

Rajel (which means 'man' in Arabic) focuses on "the new generation, love, cultural diversity, equality, inclusion, prejudice, racism, roots and identity," famous Italian singer Mahmood said in a promotional video for the series. The son of an Italian woman and an Egyptian immigrant is serving as an ambassador for the project.

Protagonist played by migrant from Morocco

Among the stars of the web series are both professional and amateur actors. The protagonists are portrayed by Ramzi Lafrindi and Dounia Filali. Lafrindi is a stand-up comedian who often makes fun of racial prejudices. He was born in Morocco and but has been living in Italy since he was 7. Filali was born in Castiglione delle Stiviere, northern Italy, in 1997 as the child of immigrants.

"They have very different personalities. Ramzi is more instinctive but has an unstoppable curiosity and energy," director Brunetti said, "[while] Dounia is a young woman with a great deal of culture, intelligent, very sharp and highly aware of issues including gender-linked ones."

The series was developed through the Italian project Oltre -- 'Oltre l'Orizzonte, Contro-Narrazioni dai Margini al Centro'. It was created in a partnership led by the University of Rome Tor Vergata alongside the Rome university La Sapienza and the Cagliari and Palermo universities as well as several associations and with support from the European Commission. The project aims to help youths through a positive narrative with examples of inclusion, and to revent radicalization.
 

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