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If Michael Moore Helped Tip an Election, He'd Be Nanni Moretti

Left-leaning actor-director Nanni Moretti arrives for the Cannes screening of
Left-leaning actor-director Nanni Moretti arrives for the Cannes screening of "Il Caimano" with actresses Margherita Buy, left and Jasmine Trinca. (By Francois Mori -- Associated Press)

In the movie, one of the characters says that the Italians have "lost our brains."

What does the director mean?

Moretti points out that in the 1970s, Italy had two national state-run channels, "the gray channels." Berlusconi revolutionized media with his creation of three new commercial channels, which had dancing girls and lots of sports, soap operas and all the rest.

"So one must say because of television we got used to dealing with characters who are really violent and mediocre and not someone we would talk to in real life," Moretti says.

Hmm. Has he ever watched any American TV?

"No."

Berlusconi served two terms as prime minister, most recently from 2001 to 2006, the longest stint in the Italian republic's history. He looms gigantic on the Italian political landscape, with a gazillion exposés and articles about him and his very complex financial dealings (and bribery/corruption trial that went on for years). So there have probably been plenty of films about this larger-than-life character, no?

"No," Moretti says. "This is the first."

That is a surprise.

"If you ask me why nobody ever made a movie about him, I have reasons for that. The first one is that the Italian reality is so amazing it is hard for the imagination to follow it. A second reason is if you want to make a movie, the funding comes from television, and in Italy it's either RAI or Berlusconi's channels, so they might not be interested in such a movie. And finally, I don't like to talk about censorship, but I think many directors or actors censor themselves. They didn't even try to do it all these years."

"Il Caimano" is clearly very anti-Berlusconi (digs at his hair plugs, plastic surgery, strong-man tactics), though it is also a commentary about the Italian condition and includes lines about how sad the left is.

What was the reaction to the film?


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