Documentary Review: ‘Spettacolo’

Documentary ‘Spettacolo’ brings a unique story from a little town ‘Monticchiello’ in Tuscany, Italy. Slated to release on 6th September, this piece of entertainment is interesting, unique, true and thought provoking at the same time. It presents a unique tradition of ‘self-drama’ or ‘auto-drama’, where residents of the town play themselves on stage to address their troubles. While this unique concept was practiced in the town for 50 years, it is slowly dying due to modern culture and lack of interest among the young population.

Filmmakers Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen have done a wonderful job by covering this annual tradition in their lens over a duration of one year. Their efforts shall introduce a novel concept to the audience across countries, highlighting the humble efforts of residents to bring a positive change in their town. It features both the past and present condition of this self-producing play that was set against the backdrop of a beautiful town.

Through these plays, residents of the town wished to address their issues. Besides, their aim was to increase spirit of communal harmony and friendship among one another. The annual tradition was their way to connect with those in the neighborhood, hoping to create a wonderful ambiance for adults and children. Such a novel, yet simple concept presents the reality that we can make efforts and participate in the development of our own society. Blaming the system is easy, but working hard for own benefit is the challenge that can prevent disputes and hatred.

A smooth flowing experience with glimpses of the past, this documentary travels across years to show the trend. Though the annual celebration enjoyed attention and love for over 50 years, it is not valued anymore due to changing modern times. As youngsters today are leaving the town for better prospects outside, the elder folks are unable to continue it, the way it was once upon a time.

Through their lens, filmmakers have attempted to capture experiences of the residents today, while they speak about uncertainties of modern world. They speak to residents about financial insecurities, corruption, increasing influence of social media and slow death of the town’s prosperous past. Picturesque scenes of the humble town form some of the highlights of this documentary. The film presents the efforts of founding Director Andrea Cresti, focusing over his creative imagination to make this concept a huge success. It showcases the glorious past of this tradition that attracted huge crowds to their town.

While the older generation looked at their town as a relaxed neighborhood with farmhouses, it is slowly being replaced with villas and vacation homes. Today, the town attracts many visitors and tourists based on its peaceful ambiance. Financial troubles of the main sponsor coupled with lack of interest among the youth contribute to the falling trend of this happy town.

‘Spettacolo’ is a wonderful treat for the audience as it picks a novel idea. Watch it for an amazing trip down the memory lane over the roads of Tuscany.

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