Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:13 am 
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The Massacre of Campania: Polution is profit

Many different actions that have a devastating effect on the environment are immensely profitable. Apart from sheer ignorance (whose presence is dubious) this is the essential reason why the planet is moving toward human-induced meltdown. It's making somebody--actually a whole lot of somebodies--very, very rich. And the baldest, ugliest example may be the toxic waste dump near human habitation.

This grim documentary about environmental degradation near Naples is very much like last year's Open Roads entry, Enrico Caria's See Naples and Die, which I described as "a rough view of a rough scene." This is an even rougher and grimmer view of a grim and depressing scene. Again the filmmaking technique is rudimentary, the coverage is even more relentless and monotonous, and the subtitles are difficult to read.

The message again concerns La Camorra, the Neopolitan branch of the Mafia. La Camorra, which by its essential nature and organization is indifferent to the law and specializes in illegality, has long controlled refuse collection. The result: illegal toxic waste dumping in Campania, the greater Naples region, where there are more illegal sites than anywhere else in Italy. The Camorra controls the local and regional politicians; hence, movements to investigate the situation and correct it get bogged down for year after year and nothing significant is done.

The Campania region comprises 5.8 million people in an area of 13,595 square kilometers; it's the most densely populated region of Italy. The film doesn't really make clear what part of that region it is dealing with. What we do see is the dumping, small and large, the containers that have been left in huge pyramids for years instead of being incinerated and removed; the sheep, especially baby ones, pathetically dying a slow death because of dioxin poisoning and the whole flocks of sheep that eventually have to be taken away en masse and killed. And we see the small families and shepherds, some with young children, and the small farmers, working on the edge of all this, with who knows what health problems resulting for them (details of that are not given).

In the Wikipedia article on Campania none of this is mentioned. Whoever wrote it didn't apparently talk to the angry people caught by the camera of Calabria, Ambrosio and Ruggiero.

This film, unlike last year's See Naples and Die, has no voiceover narration, English or Italian. It relies on a lot of infomational titles at the beginning and the end and on the outspoken voices of those interviewed, as well as an angry crusader, Raffaele Del Giudice, who drives around spying on the illegal dumping and confronting politicians on site.

The title is an ironic Italian transliteration of the words "Beautiful Country."

This film was presented in collaboration with the FSLC Green Screens program, in the Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series at Lincoln Center in June 2008.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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