When I heard that the Italian Minister of Culture was boycotting the Cannes Film Festival in protest over the out of competition screening of the Italian documentary Draquila, I had to see the film for myself.
The film casts a critical and satirical eye at the Berlusconi government and their response to the earthquake that devastated the city of L’Aquila last year.
It is not that the government failed to respond. Nor can it be said that they offloaded responsibility onto others.
On the contrary: the government responded with much fanfare. Unfortunately, in the process, they also seized the opportunity to misuse public funds and abuse their power.
The director of Draquila, Sabina Guzzanti, provides ample evidence of the profiteering, political opportunism and corruption that went on.
The documentary captures the unsavoury flavour of Italian politics and the way that scandals are linked to other scandals resulting in a messy, multi-tentacled network of lies, deceit and sleaze.
Every month, practically, a new inquiry into alleged government misconduct is launched.
At present, the Italian parliament is discussing a bill that seeks to prohibit the publication and use of information obtained from phone-tapping. Essentially, it’s an anti freedom of speech law. The film Draquila, along with some of the current investigations into corruption, rely, in part, on evidence obtained from intercepted telephone calls.
I laughed this week when I saw Sarah Ferguson getting busted for accepting a bribe. (It was a malicious media set-up – poor Fergie!) The British media had no hesitation in broadcasting all the details. Then again, Ferguson is not a political figure. Nor is she Italian.
I didn’t laugh in the cinema during Draquila and I don’t expect to see this chilling documentary on Italian TV; not in the near future anyway. Or maybe never: if Twilight is anything to go by, Dracula will be with us forever. (By Dracula, I mean a certain Italian entrepreneur, politician and media owner who will not allow anything that presents him in a negative light to go to air.)
In short, Draquila is not a happy film. It is, however, a necessary one.