Ernesto Galli della Loggia, the Corriere journalist who has triggered earlier debates in the Italian press, (see ‘Media Responses’) caused some controversy on Christmas eve with this article. The writer is very critical of the latest in the ‘Natale a…’ series (Natale a Beverly Hills), labeling it ‘una serie ininterrotta di volgarità condite di parolacce: una specie di lunga scritta oscena sulla parete del cesso d’una stazione’, a film which seemingly represents contemporary Italian society. More offensive, the critic claims, is that the film is qualified as ‘d’interesse culturale e nazionale’, and therefore has its taxes waved: this is typically awarded to ‘film d’essai’, and should typically be used to create a space for emerging cinemas.
The article has already triggered a couple of responses: Fini’s FareFuturo foundation has attempted a boycott of the film (though it is currently at the top of the box office, having made some €3.4 million), and, in an interview in the Corriere, one of the lead stars, Christian De Sica, defends the film: building on the words of the Ministro dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali (Sandro Bondi) has pointed out that the funding of the film has functioned as more of an investment. The profits will (somehow) be returned to the state for further application to emergent film
Once again the theme of the conference seems to be right at the middle of this debate: the Cinepanettone is, by now, a fairly fundamental player within the field of Italian cinema, yet one which is extremely criticized. Yet when it is repeatedly successful, making some €20 million each year, it seems difficult to simply ignore it, an elephant in the room, as a major section of the new face of the national cinema. I think the Guardian website, who have reported this story here, put it in the most relevant/interesting terms: ‘this lowbrow yuletide tale has sparked an unholy row in the nation of Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini’. Once again, the maestri/fathers of Italian film are casting a long shadow which is difficult to escape.