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FILMS / REVIEWS Italy

Review: Movida

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- Alessandro Padovani’s debut documentary, victorious at the 14th SalinaDocFest, portrays an Italian province facing depopulation through the eyes of its youngest inhabitants

Review: Movida

It might go by the name of Movida [+see also:
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, but night-life and unbridled entertainment are nowhere near the focus of the debut documentary by 27-year-old director Alessandro Padovani, which won the Tasca D’Oro in its category at the 14th SalinaDocFest. Directed by Giovanna Taviani, the festival of narrative documentaries - which is this year unspooling in two separate sittings (18-20 September in Rome; 24-26 September in Salina, Sicily) - is dedicating its 2020 edition to the theme “Young People/Youth” and it’s precisely from the viewpoint of children and teenagers that Padovani’s docufilm recounts the reality of an Italian province facing depopulation.

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We’re in Feltre, a province of Belluno, in the Veneto region. Movida is the name of a funfair frequented by local youngsters, one of the few attractions in the area which is otherwise dominated by houses, schools and abandoned factories, beautifully framed by the Dolomites. Poor until the 1960s, and then the focus of rapid growth in the latter decades of last century, the Belluno province is now in the throes of a brand-new crisis. Much like its forest with its many trees cut down - which the director points his camera at on more than one occasion - the local population is dwindling, its inhabitants departing in search of opportunities elsewhere.

But Padovani, who wrote the screenplay alongside Lorenzo Bagnatori, doesn’t linger on nostalgia for times gone by or on the perspective of the area’s older inhabitants. On the contrary, Movida portrays young people from the region in all their vitality. A group of children play war in the forest, wielding wooden weapons; an adolescent helps his shepherd father tend to his sheep, wondering if this will be his future, too; other teens amuse themselves by building motorised three-wheelers which they’ll rev around in carparks and between the town’s run-down warehouses. It’s summertime and a sense of light-heartedness abounds. Until one of them announces their imminent relocation to another region with their family.

Essential and compact (lasting 68 minutes in total), Movida is a docufilm of few words and many ideas, a work both real and poetic which boasts a mysterious fictional character embodied by actress Grazia Capraro, who roams around in abandoned homes and buildings, reawakening the town’s memory. Particularly effective in this sense is the authors’ idea to show us slices of daily life and the past lives of these locations via short home movies and archive footage, which is set in motion whenever the woman touches an object (whether an empty bottle of wine or an old photograph hung on a wall); films which, through a quick-fire montage of faces, landscapes, snow, sunsets, weddings, car races, children playing and people laughing, are a sincere, immediate and rhetoric-free testimony to the fact that once upon a time, those lands were full of happy life.

Movida is produced by MIUR (Italian Ministry of Education) and MIBAC (Italian Ministry of Culture), alongside the Dal Piaz Highschool in Feltre (Belluno), as part of the “Cinema per la Scuola, Visioni Fuori Luogo” scheme (litt: “Cinema for the Schoolplace, Out of Place Perspectives”) promoted by the two ministries, in collaboration with Haapar.

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(Translated from Italian)

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