Imagine a documentary film that took more than twenty years to make. Couple of nights ago, here in Brussels, I went to see “Il Fare politica” of a Belgian author Hugues Le Paige. The movie was showed in the cultural centre “Espace Marx”, in collaboration with the “Association Antonio Gramsci”. “Il fare politica” is a story about 4 Italian communist party activists in a small Tuscan village of Mercatale also known as “little Russia”. The movie follows the story of Fabiana, Carlo, Claudio and Vincenzo who are members of the Italian communist party at the local level. The story starts in 1982 and follows the lives of these authors, their experience of the fall of the Berlin wall the end of a dream and transformations. The story ‘ends’ in 2004. I must say this is one of the best documentary films that I have ever seen, so emotional, real to the extent that it becomes an illusion, the story tells about a dream of a classless society, but not aggressive militantism of Italian urban extreme left of the 1970s ‘led years’. The film starts with a conversation with a mother of on of the main actors, the Belgian journalist asks her:
-when you say little Russia, is this something positive for you.
-yes – she replies, and continues – we used to applaud to Stalin, like this…
The film starts with a funeral of Enrico Berlinguer
Memorable Italian Communist Party leader, one of the main promoters of the so-called ‘historical compromise’ that sought to form a governing coalition between the Demochristians and the communist but it never happened…Enrico’s brother Giovanni (when I entered the room I saw the pannel and could not believe my eyes I though I saw Donald Rumsfeld, I saw an amazing similarity between two people, then I realized that he is the brother of the historical leder of the Italian Communists and a contemporary european politician), at present an MEP from the Italian Democrats of the Left (ex Communist Party) was present at the discussion after the film.
‘Il fare politica’ is a typically Italian expression that could be approximately translated as political activism, but one of the main personalities from the film Fabiana defines it much better then me. Asked how would she define ‘il fare politica’ she answers, after a short, timid reflection, “do not stand by and idly observe, participate, understand the reasoning of the others.” The film partially wishes to demonstrate how political activism of the 1970s, 1980s in the Communist party, constant debates, demonstrating, slowly dies out with the Great political transformations that occurred with the fall of the Berlin wall…it is certainly at the personal level highly nostalgic, but also at the political level. At a certain moment during the film one of them 4 says, “we are not the same as the Communists form Eastern Europe”, but why I wandered and asked was it because there was something profoundly different in the historical development of the two parties or was it merely because the Italian communist Party stayed in the opposition and was forced to act in a hostile capitalist environment that essentially made it better…If they came to power in 1945, if the decision made at Yalta was different, if the Red army was faster, would they be still different than the Polish, Czech communists? The director of the film answered that he indeed belives that the Italian Communist Party was different, because “Gramsci was not a Leninist”. Berlinguer added that the Italian Communists were in fact socialists but they did not fully realize this. Another person from the audience asked an interesting question, he generally objected to the nostalgia of the film, he rather saw the changes political and personal of the main personalities as a positive thing, as if they became more mature and started demanding more from the politicians. He asked Berlinguer why didn’ t they (the Italian Communists) change a name, much earlier, ay in 1982, this way the entire crisis of the Italian politics of the 1980s and early 1990s could have been avoided. Berlinguer, said that they feared that they would lose many voters and activists…but that he still does not know whether they did a right thing to maintain the old line until the very end…Il fare politica is a truly wonderful thing and once again I got convinced that Cinema Forums, discussing films in group after seeing them (in an organized manner) is a truly entertaining exercise…thanks to "Espace Marx" and "Assotiation Gramsci".