Directed by Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen
Once upon a time, villagers in a tiny hill town in Tuscany came up with a remarkable way to confront their issues: they turned their lives into a play. Every summer, their piazza became their stage and residents of all ages played a part – the role of themselves. Monticchiello’s annual tradition has attracted worldwide attention and kept the town together for 50 years, but with an aging population and a future generation more interested in Facebook than farming, the town’s 50th–anniversary performance just might be its last. SPETTACOLO tells the story of Teatro Povero di Monticchiello, interweaving episodes from its past with its modern-day process as the villagers turn a series of devastating blows into a new play about the end of their world.
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★★★½ review by Gus Johnson on Letterboxd
I feel like every movie review I say, "The times they are a changin." But seriously the times they are a changin. Tick tock goes the clock, like the clicking of Andrea's G9 Pilot gel pens.
★★★★ review by Marco Fratarcangeli on Letterboxd
A little too dramatized at some points, but that has to be a part of this story: a (very) small town in Tuscany which produces an annual"autodrama" of its own history. Rather than focusing on a single aspect, this documentary covers a little bit of everything such as the economic crisis, memory and history, global tourism's effect on small Tuscan towns, the history of the town's theatrical tradition, and generational differences driven by modernization, to name only a few topics. Overall, Spettacolo is intriguing in the way it explores history itself and how we tell it, both in theatre and in film.
★★★★ review by Prad Nelluru on Letterboxd
What a gorgeous film, delicate and deftly executed.
The film follows a town engaging in autodrama. The town has put on a play every year for fifty years, but as times have changed it's been harder to keep putting it on. The film uses the play to document Tuscany's rise as a tourist hotspot, the flight of the young to the cities for better opportunities, and the withering of the community by aging.
The film presents plays as a transient experience, an effort that consumes many people, a way to discuss one's own lives, and something essential to sacrifice time and energy for. Making art for expressing a feeling or an idea otherwise inexpressible, for one's soul, sacrificing much - that's the noblest way to make art. And this is the viewpoint the film takes. It trains its lenses on the discussions about what to write a play about, their issues getting financing, their difficulty in convincing the aging population to join. It also shows the tourists dragging their rolling backpack on the stony streets (I cringed), the director's son running a bed & breakfast (with a shot of him taking a promotional shot), and kids playing soccer (a quick shot of a soccer star on one wall.) All these make the obvious intrusion of commercialism into their lives clear, without bludgeoning the viewer.
There are many utterly beautiful shots of this picturesque little town. It's a sort of fairy land - pretty, on a hill, where the residents perform a fabulist's premise. A crumbling heaven.
The residents themselves are completely clear-headed. "Objectively, we'll end up like every little town in Tuscany, empty."
In the past few days, I've seen a few plays and met the people behind them. I need to nourish my soul by creating.
★★★★★ review by cascadeofwater on Letterboxd
This utterly delightful documentary gave me chills. Theater never combined with life more completely than in the annual tradition of this Tuscan village. Time + human community + the practice of authentic art = Priceless treasure.
★★★★½ review by Arvhi on Letterboxd
I'm in love. This movie is one of the reason I'm still breathing. Beautiful.
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