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Italian Political Cinema

Public Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film


Edited By Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva

Despite the powerful anti-political impulses that have pervaded Italian society in recent years, Italian cinema has sustained and renewed its longstanding engagement with questions of politics, both in the narrow definition of the term, and in a wider understanding that takes in reflections on public life, imaginary, and national identity. This book explores these political dimensions of contemporary Italian cinema by looking at three complementary strands: the thematics of contemporary political film from a variety of perspectives; the most prominent directors currently engaged in this filone; and case studies of the films that best represent this engagement. Conceived and edited by two Italian film scholars working in radically different academic settings, Italian Political Cinema brings together a wide array of critical positions and research from Italy, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The tripartite structure and international perspective create a volume that is an accessible entry-point into a subject that continues to attract critical and cultural attention, both inside and outside of academia.
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Alan O’Leary - Political/Popular Cinema


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Still capture from La polizia ringrazia, by Stefano Vanzina (Primex Italiana,  Dieter Geissler Filmproduktion)


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Political/Popular Cinema

Popular culture is a site where the construction of everyday life may be examined. The point of doing this is not only academic – that is, as an attempt to understand a process or practice – it is also political, to examine the power relations that constitute this form of everyday life and thus reveal the configurations of interests its construction serves.

— GRAEME TURNER, British Cultural Studies, 20031

The political in cinema has variously been theorised as a question of legislation and economics (the circumstances and systems of production and exhibition), of legitimation and representation (who gets to ‘speak’ and for whom), of film form, and of content. Perhaps the last continues to preside in critical discussions of Italian cinema where there is a widespread understanding of politics as what is, or what was, or what should be ‘in the news’.2 Thus, a ‘political film’ might be concerned with the mafia, with the anti-democratic activities of Silvio Berlusconi, with the employment conditions of contract workers, with the plight of migrants to Italy, and so on. Such themes are of undoubted and often urgent importance; the problem lies in the fact that ‘politics’ in Italian cinema has typically been discussed in terms of film-makers’ engagement with issues that have been predefined as valuable or important,...

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