Long live the lobster!
by Natasha Senjanovic
As expected, local hero comedienne-actress-director Sabina Guzzanti received a thunderous standing ovation at the end of the official screening of Sympathy for the Lobster (Le ragioni dell’aragosta).
She has once again made a film that mixes the personal and political but whereas Viva Zapatero! [+see also:
film profile] directly tackled the ramifications of the censorship of her show Raiot in particular and of any satirical content on Italian television in general, here she uses the mockumentary form to speak of the painful and often paralyzing step before political activism: self-introspection and faith in one’s own projects and strength.
In the film, a group of comedians, all actors and creators of the cult 1990s sketch show Avanzi, reunite in 2006 to perform a benefit show to attract attention to the plight of Sardinian lobster fisherman. According to Guzzanti, the most difficult aspect of the undertaking was “asking for the greatest performance you can ask of actors – to play themselves.”
Working without any kind of script and relying solely on their improvisational skills, comic Cinzia Leone said the film is political precisely because “it is about frailties and fears. Talking about political activism and commitment without talking about human beings is our problem in Italy. We are lacking the intellectual tools to express our infinite inner subtleties.”
The result is an intimate look at those subtleties and how they are an inevitable part of creating art and maintaining one’s dedication, which Guzzanti says came about as a response to the main question she was asked by viewers of her previous, debut film: “What can we do to change things in the world?”
“This pervasive sense of impotence made me take the question a step further,” she said, “to ask what it is that keeps us from acting and reacting, whether our actions are worthwhile or not. We obviously don’t have the answers but we have to work with what we have, with the trust that slowly grows in what we are doing. And we have to be sure to have someone nearby, when our insecurities lead to our collapse, to help us not close ourselves off in isolation.”
Sympathy for the Lobster was produced by Guzzanti, Valerio Terenzio and Simona Banchi, with leading Italian independent production company Fandango and Istituto Luce, the latter which will distribute the film domestically.
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