It is very difficult to define Sabina Guzzanti: she’s an Italian comedian, theatre actress, film actress, satirist, singer and activist; once she defined herself as a jester, but most of all she’s a seeker of truth. A truth which in the past she shared with her audience through satirical TV programmes, one of which was closed after the very first episode, more recently through films, documentaries, theatre shows and the web. In her long career, started in the 90s, she mimicked many famous people from politicians -her best imitation is still Silvio Berlisconi -to the porn star Moana Pozzi generating laughter in her fans and the rage of her targets.
Of all her projects the most famous and most interesting are her films and documentaries. Among them, Viva Zapatero! (2005), Draquila -L’Italia che trema (Draquila -Italy is Shaking, 2010) and La trattativa (The Negotiation, 2014) are the most striking because they show an uncanny, grotesque and often unbelievable reality. Yet the best quality of all these productions are the brightness and lucidity through which truth is displayed and the sort of truth Guzzanti tells: that which press and television avoid to tell.
In this documentary Guzzanti intermingles her misadventures with the Italian censorship and the problem of the freedom of press and expression in Italy. She tells the story of how her satirical programme, Raiot, broadcast by RAI3, was shut down after just the first episode as Mediaset (Berlusconi’s private television) and Rai sued Guzzanti for defamation. Nevertheless the Public Prosecution declared that the sue was unfounded, that Guzzanti did not defame anyone because Raiot was in effect a satirical programme and because everything Guzzanti said during the first episode was true. This is the starting point to expand the theme of freedom of press and expression to other contexts, for instance Guzzanti travels abroad, to France and Great Britain, to meet other satirists and comedians in order to understand to what extent they are free to mock politicians and men of State. In addition to that, Guzzanti speaks with many Italian and foreign journalists about what happened to her and the rough conditions of freedom of press and information in Italy. The result of this documentary is a clear scenario: Italy is a partly free country and even though many comedians and journalists struggle every day to improve this system, this is not enough.
Draquila -L’Italia che trema
If Viva Zapatero! was astonishing, Draquila is even more startling. The title mixes the words Dracula, the most famous vampire, and L’Aquila, the once beautiful medieval city in Abruzzo, now devastated by the 2009 earthquake. In this documentary, Guzzanti tells how the government dealt with that catastrophe and consequently what happened to those who survived the earthquake. After the earthquake Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister at that time, sucked L’Aquila’s blood by beginning a huge political and media speculation profiteering of the disaster of the city to rebuild his image in Italian people’s eyes on one side, and to change laws at his own advantage, giving huge power to the body of the Civil Protection and imposing a sort of martial law in the camps for dispersed people, preventing them to gather in public meetings, on the other side. But this is just of one aspect of what happened after L’Aquila earthquake. The documentary shows how that terrible event became, for Berlusconi and his protégés, a machine to produce money, to suspend democracy and to create the false image of Berlusconi as the hero and guardian angel of the earthquake victims. Draquila is an important document which sheds a painful but bright light over the events which took place in L’Aquila after one of the biggest natural disasters from which Italy suffered in recent years.
Guzzanti’s last film shows some known events of the recent Italian history which took place from the 90s up to now. Such events are called the Negotiation, namely the agreements and compromises which took place between the Italian State and the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. Guzzanti traces back the deals made between the State and Cosa Nostra in order to stop mafia’s massacres in the 90s; she asks who killed Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, the two best known anti-mafia magistrates both assassinated by Cosa Nostra; what is the real nature of this Neagotiation and who is really implicated among politicians, security forces, secret agents, Masons and even the Church.
In all these films, and in all her projects, Sabina Guzzanti shows her capacity of clearly narrating the most controversial events of the last years, allowing the truth to surface. She is a comedian, satirist, jester, an activist which fights for democracy, against corruption and the abuses of the power, but most of all she is a seeker of truth.