A wealth of interviews and archival footage are brought together in “The Summit,” Franco Fracassi and Massimo Lauria’s thoroughly researched investigation into the 2001 Genoa G8 demonstration debacle. Though there’s no shortage of docus about the event (plus the Berlin-preemed feature “Diaz: Don’t Clean Up This Blood”), “The Summit” looks at the broader picture, putting the protest and the shocking police reaction into context while searching for explanations for the brutality. An unfortunate coda, plus a sense the helmers rushed to finish the pic, compromise a wholehearted endorsement, but docu fests and Euro Satcast auds have plenty to chew on.
Generally, the structure assists in understanding the complex scenario, first looking at the protests geographically by city square and then culminating with the horrific beatings inside the Diaz school (recent docu “Black Block” does a better job documenting the subsequent nightmares inside the Bolzaneto detention center). The helmers bring together a diverse group of talking heads from all walks of life who relate why they were there and what they were doing before and during confrontations with police whose demeanor is described as animalistic (hospital worker Gabriella Trotta says the cops appeared to be driven into a frenzy by the smell of blood).
Brit indie journalist Mark Covell is one of the few non-Italos interviewed, commenting on some of the footage he shot, and then describing his life-threatening beating by cops who subsequently lied to doctors, telling them that the comatose Covell was a drug addict going through withdrawal.
After dealing with the Diaz episode, the docu looks back at the shadowy origins of the Black Bloc protesters, and then finds parallels with previous anti-globalization demonstrations in Seattle, Gothenburg and Naples. Among the conclusions offered here are that a concerted plan was orchestrated (with the guidance and possibly direction of the National Security Agency) to destabilize the no-global movement and its assault on capitalism.
It’s a difficult theory to prove, especially considering the ultimately minor impact on world commerce such protests tend to have. Certainly for Italy, it is believable that Berlusconi’s then-new coalition, fearing the kinds of union protests that brought down a government back in 1994, could have issued directives to smash the demonstrators. Fracassi and others claim that police disguised themselves as Black Bloc members and started the riots themselves to provide the excuse needed for an all-out assault.
In terms of PR, the violence backfired, with Amnesty Intl. recently calling the event and the judicial aftermath “an intolerable stain on Italy’s human rights record.” More discussion of previous anti-globalization protests would have been welcome, and at times editing suggests the helmers were racing against deadline, but the real flaw here is the finale, which plays like a cheap overdramatized investigative TV show “analyzing” how protester Carlo Giuliani was killed. Along with repeated footage and distracting, overdone music, this section should simply be snipped out altogether.