L'Italo-Americano

italoamericano-digital-6-13-2019

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THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2019 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 I t makes us smile, but because it shows a paradox, it does not amuse. This is grotesque: it highlights unbalance, disproportion between elements, and irony soon leaves space to a bitter taste in the mouth. One of the adjectives most commonly used for Lina Wertmüller's movies is, indeed, grotesque. Because the Roman director and screen- writer always managed, using a narrative at once documentary, cynical and carefree, to seize the fun side of an otherwise difficult situation, avoiding over dramatic tones, but not certainly reflection. Her ironic and provocative vein, along with her passion for Italian grotesque, led all her successes, characterized by titles so long to have entered the Guinness Book of Records. But it is these very titles, impossible to remember, that give a sense of her way of making movies: stories that make us think, tales that amuse us. But 33 movies and 32 original screenplays also tell us of an extraordinary career, that gave to the public an incredibly original version of Italianness, a quiet, acute, merciless, edgy, humorous portrait who transformed her into a refined painter of Italy's vices, which she pushed to the extreme of, as we said, grotesque. Her cinema becomes, then, social and political criticism that develops through ridiculing the subject explored: by making it excessive and extravagant, she transforms it into a parody of itself. As the audience of such human comedy, we cannot but feel carefree, unaware of all consequences. Spectators end up, then, to feel some sort of discomfort, result of the violence and misery of ignorance. In the end, who said that a movie has to be necessarily dramatic to make us think? Why can it not use, on the contrary, satire, humor, the grotesque to express an engaged attitude towards the world around? " I have a certain liking for the grotesque: distorting reality has always been my way of telling it," she said often. Awarding an Oscar to Lina Wertmüller has an important merit: it gives a more than deserved moment of glory not only to women cinema, that is, cinema made by women, but to Italian cinema, a field with so Lina Wertmüller: an Oscar to an original portrait of Italianness From the director many female artists who obtain, however, so little recognition for their work, just as it happens in Italian politics or society. Apical roles are mostly for the other half of heaven, if it's true that 75% of managerial positions belongs to men. Gender equality is still far away. Understanding the causes of such a lack of valorization of female leadership in Italy is a complex matter, also because Italian women are statistically better educated than men. The number of women holding a degree has been steadily higher than men's since the 1990s and today reaches 55%. In practice, though, women study more but work less (and, in general, they are also paid less) and they need to have twice as much education as their male counterparts to obtain the same professional position. This seems to have little to do with cinema, but it does, especially when we are talking about Lina Wertmüller, who could still teach us a thing or two about the subject. Starting with the way she always moved against the mainstream, introducing a non-conforming female view of the world around her, creating an entirely new and unique cinematic style. Talent is genderless, but finding recognition for it, or the right conditions to express it is not always easy, especially when you are a woman. In the world of cinema, too, there is still a lot of work to do and it's not an easy task. There's still a lot to do, if we want female artists to be fully recognized as qualified professionals, and their talent to be rightly valorized. Maybe, the recognition the LA Academy has always given to our actresses — perhaps better loved in Hollywood than back home — could be a good starting point: three Oscars, one for Anna Magnani and two for Sofia Loren, against the one won by Roberto Benigni for Life is Beautiful. Lina Wertmüller always says to young people to hang on in there: "Passion is what really counts. If there's passion, you have to honor it, you have to dedicate yourself to it fully. If there isn't any, then you're better change job. Not being successful mustn't be an obstacle: you fall, you stand up again. That's all." And this is, probably, the most important lesson to get a world where women counts more: "I followed my path, I always did what I liked. I've always had a strong personality, since I was a child. I've been expelled from eleven schools. On set, I've always been the one in charge. You have to be assertive. I would scream and kick." That's called determination. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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