In 2020, Italy faced its greatest crisis since the Second World War. Now once again among the rubble, there is a chance to rebuild and reimagine — in life, society, and in cinema.
As it was during the time of the Black Death, Italy was the first European country to be ravaged by a new plague. The world stood by as the situation with Coronavirus in the country escalated to a scale that defied belief. Now that the crisis has largely subsided there, the Italian people have been given a chance to rebuild. They must also ponder their unwanted status as the canary in the mine for the pandemic outside China.
The very best of recent Italian cinema gives us hope for more of an engaged, less of a violent, and a more culturally nourishing future. Whether in Gianfranco Rosi's Below Sea Level, in which a cast of outcasts reject society for an alternative way of living, or in All Confession Oeuvre, with its post-industrial landscapes reflecting the isolation of its main characters, you can find Italian artists ruminating on the best ways to live, to make a place in the world.
Let's imagine all these films as a part of the long legacy of the country's masterpieces, and therefore of the history of the place more broadly. If lessons can be learned, then things—however small—can shift. The world situation today is so enormous in scale that it handily surpasses the limits of our imaginations. Art in these times becomes more essential than ever. Movies like these ones give us a roadmap through troubled times. In a country like Italy, they look to a future while imploring us to imagine the place and the history that gave birth to them.
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