A New Italian Political Cinema? Initial Findings
Below is the first set of findings to emerge from the events that have formed part of the project to date:
• Unlike political cinema in Italy forty years ago, Italian cinema today is an orphan of the political ideologies that animated the protest movements of the 60s/70s, and while a cinema predicated on socio-political themes can still be said to exist, it functions primarily at an intimate, personal micro level (this is the case for feature-length fiction) and often fails to connect the individual realities of people to broader macro-level political, social and economic phenomena.
• Political films and documentaries, particularly during the Berlusconi era, have often proved to be more effective in terms of political denunciation and what would traditionally be termed “investigative journalism” than the Italian press and news outlets (e.g. Sabina Guzzanti’s ‘Draquila’, concerning state corruption in the aftermath of the Abruzzo earthquake).
• There is an evolving body of internationally recognized prize-winning Italian cinematic work – notably shorts and medium-length work – which is predicated on ‘unfashionable’ socio-economic issues; the socially marginalized in Italian society, the ‘reception’ (detention) centres for migrants, etc. Such projects never receive the finance to become full-length, commercial projects but play a role in raising public awareness of certain issues.
• We have identified several cases of films being made by certain individuals who are themselves directly affected by socio-economic problems and political events. One example is the short film ‘A zupp è fasul’ made by the Ferrari car workers in Modena to highlight their battle against their management’s attempts to impose less favourable working conditions. Should this evolve into a discernible tendency, it represents a fascinating development within film-making – with real-life individuals, in the middle of their own ongoing ‘narratives’, recording their experiences in a cinematic form.
• Within mainstream, commercial film projects, there is a tendency to focus on the more ‘spectacular’, visible aspects of socio-economic problems and to neglect issues which, paradoxically, affect far greater numbers of people. A key example is the issue of migration to Italy. Films tend to focus on the traumatic arrival of the migrant (e.g. Crialese’s ‘Nuovomondo’) or the marginalization/exploitation of the migrant once s/he has entered the country. By contrast, issues such as the plight of tens of thousands of people of African origin who are born in Italy, individuals who are highly educated but who are denied Italian citizenship, are rarely publicized.
• The limited access and, indeed, exclusion of groups of film-makers from access to funds and resources is a more profound problem than is commonly imagined. Several workshop presentations and personal testimonies highlighted the ongoing difficulties faced by film-makers of non-Italian ethnic origins and by film-makers with political projects in gaining access to the Italian film industry’s funds, resources and collaborative opportunities.