When Italy trembles

Draquila – Italy trembling

Sabina Guzzanti, Italy, 2010

The same old story: the dirty clothes are washed in the family. To watch Draquila in Brussels, (almost) a year after, out of context and separate from the strong link with the drama of the earthquake and its exploitation that Italy has experienced, is nothing short of exhausting. From the few spectators in the silent room I could distinguish only one comment while the credit titles appeared: ‘Ah les italiens.’ Humiliating. I immediately went back to the memories with the controversy erupted a few months ago on the statements made by Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, the undisputed protagonist of the film, in which he was complaining of an alleged negative publicity for the country in the eyes of the world from some works of denunciation of the organized crime (see Gomorra, Roberto Saviano, 2006). The dirty clothes, of course … in vain I tried to laugh about.

Also the luck of Draquila is linked to similar claims of omerta by members of the Italian government. It constitutes, according to the Minister for Arts and Culture Sandro Bondi, an insult to the Italian people. Yet a fair and certainly more lucid analysis of the film could not take me to the same conclusions. I can not agree, while recognizing that the one painted by the film is not an Italy full of luster. But is it the people who are being offended? What is Draquila? It is the fourth documentary from Italian director and actress Sabina Guzzanti. The theme of the film is the chronicle of the events of that shook Italy in 2009. The viewer is informed about the facts: the city of L’Aquila (central Italy) shaken by a violent earthquake that destroyed the historic center and the subsequent measures of the government to ‘rescue’ people left homeless. The modes of satire investigation and reporting, a cinematographic technique was far from the glitz of mainstream productions but smooth, young, dynamic, a fierce denunciation of the actions of public and private institutions that have more or less illicitly used this goose that lays the golden eggs that is the earthquake.

Summing up, however, something keeps me from expressing positive about the film itself. And perhaps not wanting to give the lure a couple of minutes of Orwellian hate, or a sterile antiberlusconismo one night stand, a clear reminiscence of the formation of Guzzanti television. But it is clear that I consider it an essential film that everyone should watch. Beyond the message it conveys the complaint must give credit to its author for the effort that carries forward from years to protect freedom of expression. A journey from television, theater, cinema and young forms of communication offered by digital technologies – see for example the intelligent decision to take advantage of the enormous new possibilities for dissemination of a film like Draquila on line. In short, you can more or less agree but you can not ignore, we must watch it and it is good to talk about this film.

And the people? The Italian people here seem to split in two: on one hand the government’s supporters, ravenous consumers of television among the smartest in the world in the techniques of mass persuasion, the other a frustrated minority, ignored by the political class as a whole when even in contrast to the majority and opposition. The figure of the people represented here is that of a victim in both cases. There lies some truth in this picture.

Claudio Santancini

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