Italian Contemporary Film Festival 2013: Benvenuto presidente!
Outside looking in, Italian politics seem pretty surreal. From Silvio Berlusconi’s “Bunga Bunga” parties to porn star politician Cicciolina, the non-Italian mind boggles. New film farce Benvenuto presidente!, from director Riccardo Milani, offers a little bit of insight into the wacky world of Italian politics.
Benvenuto presidente!, part fable and part farce, is the story of humble trout fisherman Giuseppe Garibaldi (Claudio Bisio), Peppino to his friends. When three savvy politicos decide to nominate an historical Garibali as a bit of jokey political theater, he finds himself head of the Italian state. Peppino accepts his new position, against all good common sense, and with the help of his inflexible vice secretary general (Kasia Smutniak), achieves results… at least to varying degrees of success. We, Peppino achieves comedic results, we’ll say.
To reach for a familiar comparison, Benvenuto presidente! might put one in mind of Frank Capra’s classic Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. It’s the same basic set-up – the rube finds himself in a position of high-society power, suffers the slings and arrows of mockery, and ultimately show’s everyone that even a simple fisherman knows a thing or two. It’s charming. But just as the era-specific politics that creep into the end of Mr. Deeds do, Benvenuto presidente! and the specific politics therein might leave non-Italian viewers feeling a little left out of the joke.
Still, all in all, Benvenuto presidente! is a charming and funny little movie and demonstrates to the rest of us that the Italian people are quite aware that their internal politics look a little wacky from the outside.
Benvenuto presidente! opens the Italian Contemporary Film Festival at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the festival website at http://www.icff.ca/.
A Gallery of Images from Benvenuto Presidente!