Carlo and Gianpaolo Messina started their company Yesmoke in 2000. They sold the world’s most popular brands of cigarettes online at cut-rate prices. Their business did not sit well with Philip Morris: the conglomerate quickly filed a 500-million dollar lawsuit against the brothers. US officials tried to put a stop to Yesmoke products flooding into the country since they considered tax-free cigarettes to be contraband. That only got the Messina brothers going: they started growing their 100-million dollar business and blatantly asking even more trouble.

When Italy deregulated its tobacco monopoly, the Messinas were offered a whole new lifeline. Italy’s entire tobacco production was suddenly in the hands of British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, and Yesmoke became the only considerable domestic manufacturer. Full-on guerrilla war ensued.

Inhaling and exhaling suspense like an old-fashioned gangster pic, smoKings reeks of national pride, distaste for big corporations and bureaucracy, martyrdom, fag breaks while running and wonderful Italian derision. More important than multi-million dollar profits is the opportunity to get in Big Tobacco’s and the government’s face – partly for revenge, but mainly just for the kicks.

Text and translation: Tapio Reinekoski

Languages: Italy, English, German
Subtitles: English



  • Director: Michele Fornasero
  • Country: Italy, Switzerland
  • Year: 2014
  • Length: 96 min
  • Age limit: S
  • Format: DCP
  • Cinematography: Paolo Ferrari
  • Editing: Jesper Osmund, Marco Rezoagli
  • Audio: Gigi Miniotti
  • Music: Giorgio Giampa
  • Production: Simone Catania / Indyca


  • Maxim 1: Tuesday 27.1. at 20:15