Cannes 2021: review of “Old”, by Alice Rohrwacher, Pietro Marcello and Francesco Munzi (Directors’ Fortnight)

The task seemed simple, classic, even nice. Three Italian filmmakers organize to travel the country from end to end with the idea of ​​asking young people about the future: how do they see it? What do you expect? What do they want? What are they afraid of? Alice Rohrwacher, Pietro Marcello and Francesco Munzi –at least the first two, among the most celebrated filmmakers to emerge in that country in the last decade– embarked on this journey at the beginning of 2020. AND FUTURA focuses on these young people and their dreams and fears in front of to, well, the future. The only thing that neither the directors nor the interviewees imagined was that this future (the present, bah) was going to change radically from one day to the next and it was going to modify the plans … and not just those of the film.

FUTURA has something classic, even Old movie fashioned, in its format and aesthetics: from time to time the voiceover of Rohrwacher is heard narrating some events linked mainly to changes in filming plans and the current situation of the pandemic. And, on the other hand, there is something of the old news in the way in which the questions are heard, off camera, with the voices of the directors looking as if they had been later re-recorded and arranged to make the answers more effective. It basically recalls a certain cinema verité from the 1960s, especially films like COMIZI D’AMORE, by Pier Paolo Pasolini, who made a similar journey and used similar frames for a similar format of interviews, only talking mainly about sex and love. Or some Joris Ivens experiments.

Here the filmmakers do not get too much into those intimate areas, although some arise naturally in the comments of the boys they interview. From Venice to Naples, from Palermo to Rome, from Milan to Pisa, from Brescia to Genoa, the film allows us to hear what children think about study, work, the economy, social networks, previous generations, their parents , politicians, the environment and how they look ten years from now.

In March 2020, however, the pandemic alters plans. From the film, on the one hand, you must stop your recording. And of the boys, whom we meet again in the boreal summer of 2020 – after the first wave, when many believed that the worst was over – and whom we can see somewhat altered by the impact. However, at that stage, FUTURA continues its journey as if what happened was already a memory, returning to the young people themselves (who now use little and nothing masks) and restarting the conversation.

Then there is another stop (with the second wave) and the film there does become a bit more a reflection of the specific present, a live portrait of what is happening, since –from what it seems, it is seen and said– It is filmed during that rise in cases at the end of 2020 and at the beginning of this year in Europe. There we already notice other tensions, other fears and other concerns. Not so different from the previous ones (the film goes back to some characters but mostly adds new ones), but perhaps more intense.

The only way to find out who is filming what is to listen to the voices of those who ask, especially Alice (I, at least, I cannot distinguish the voices of Marcello and Munzi), who seems to act as the host of the story. There are also no noticeable stylistic differences between what each one films. At the end, when the film recalls the brutal demonstrations that took place against the G8 meeting in Genoa at the beginning of the century, it is the only moment in which FUTURA seems to editorialize a bit, perhaps implying that this generation is less combative. or more realistic than the previous one.

However, I never know how to try to generalize: you will find testimonies of very intelligent and analytical boys (from all places and social classes) and others who only dream of becoming famous or being soccer players, as if it were the 50s, reinforcing the Something old school feature of the project. Those who expected something more radical or formally striking from this trio of filmmakers will find that FUTURA is the most classic of all their films, one that hooks the most small-town Italy we remember from the past with the most modern and changeable of the present. At the end of the day, his cinema for is also that.