For Italy, Fiat cars topper Giovanni Agnelli was a cross between Henry Ford and Peter the Great. His death in 2003 ended an era, which helmer Armando Ceste cleverly explores by way of Shakespeare in “A Fiat Hamlet.” Miraculously side-stepping the precious or farfetched, Ceste uses “Hamlet” as a mirror for scrutinizing Turin’s working class past viewed through Fiat’s failing fortunes. Some knowledge of Agnelli and recent Turin history is helpful, but adventurous fests with literary or radical bents would do well to pick this one up.
In its industrial heyday, Turin was the auto worker capital of Europe, but declining sales led to factory closings and massive lay-offs. City officials are keen to refashion another image, but Ceste uses the ghost’s imperative in “Hamlet,” “Remember me!” to call attention to the willful suppression of its proletariat past. Interviews with sociologists, set within the mangled remains of factories, are crosscut with legit director Beppe Rosso and a staged reading of “Hamlet” using Fiat workers as actors. The Bard’s words act as springboards for relevant discussions of labor history and responsibility, making for an unlikely, but successful mix.