“Bella Ciao: Genoa Social Forum, ‘Another World Is Possible'” is an explosive blow-by-blow account of what happened outside the Genoa Social Forum last July, where over a thousand organizations, unions and movements from around the world gathered to protest globalization. At that G8 summit, the death of 23-year-old demonstrator Carlo Giuliani, the bloody police evacuation of the school where many had gone to spend the night, the sinister dance of the masked “black blok” group and scenes of vicious police brutality are shown in the exciting, nervous atmosphere created by on-the-spot TV coverage. After immediate sales to socially motivated webs with young viewers, the film should have a long life as a historical document.
Though produced by Carlo Freccero and pubcaster RAI-2, pic’s hot political content has kept it from being aired in Italy. (“Ciao” is the first of two key docus being presented at Cannes on the subject; the other is Francesca Comencini’s “Carlo Giuliani, Boy.”)
Filmmakers Marco Giusti and Roberto Torelli enjoyed privileged access to all the footage shot by the RAI news teams, plus additional material from Indymedia, Radio Sherwood and Makaya. Giusti and Torelli have worked together on numerous RAI TV programs that select and edit together unrelated news footage to bring out new, subtle meanings.
In “Bella Ciao” (title comes from a WWII resistance song), they make excellent use of this technique, presenting a piece of journalism that is outwardly neutral but raises painful questions about the nature of democracy in Italy, government responsibility behind police violence and, on a broader level, the impact of the no-global movement on decision-making.
The sheer number of demonstrators in Genoa (by organizers’ counts some 250,000, more than four times the protesters in Seattle) seems to intimidate the Italian riot police and carabineers. When black blok protesters burn cars before the march begins, police are shown standing by without intervening.
It is only when the peaceful demonstrators turn up en masse that they begin bashing heads. Hellish scenes of fighting and bloodshed culminate in Giuliani being killed by a policeman’s bullet as he attacks a police van.
The impression of agitation and chaos created by the constantly moving TV cameras is heightened by Elena Giusti’s well-chosen selection of rock music, lending pic an MTV feel while keeping it on the razor’s edge of emotion.