A chilling document of our times and a loving but restrained memorial to the 23-year-old demonstrator killed by a police bullet last July during the G8 summit meeting and Genoa Social Forum, “Carlo Giuliani, Boy” induces much reflection. In reconstructing his final hours, director Francesca Comencini (“Zeno,” “Annabelle Partagee”) presents auds with a wrenching comparison between violence, perpetrated by the police as well as the masked Black Block group, and the peaceful, democratic will of thousands of protesters to be heard. Brief and touching, it should have little trouble finding its way to TV nets interested in quality material.
Comencini was in Genoa during the July 16-22 Social Forum working on the multi-director project “A Different World Is Possible” coordinated by Francesco Maselli. He chooses here to focus on Giuliani’s death as amply documented in photos and footage shot that day. But far from being a strict news chronicle, doc is structured around a filmed interview with the boy’s mother, Haidi Giuliani, who patiently re-creates his final day almost minute by minute. Her quiet, firm voice sends out a message of pacifism that contrasts disquietingly with the police brutality of that day.
Family photos and Carlo Giuliani’s own poems and bits of writing in English, Italian and Latin create a portrait far removed from the “homeless punk” described by some of the news media.
Yet in the end film is not a hagiography of Giuliani, a normal boy from Genoa who met an atrocious end: He was first shot in the face as he lifted a fire extinguisher to throw at a police jeep that had a hand holding a gun protruding from it, and then he was twice run over by the panicked or perhaps just indifferent military police.
Pic is a call to choose between the mother’s unshakeable belief in the right to protest for a better society, and the authorities’ stony refusal to allow space for that protest.