babelmed - 29/04/2015
Gianfranco Rosi, Italy-France, 2013, 93′ - After the India of the boatmen, the American dropout desert, the Mexican drug ring hitmen, Gianfranco Rosi has turned to his own country, driving around in his minivan and spending three years getting lost around the Grande Raccordo Anulare, Rome’s orbital motorway, discovering a world that lies hidden behind the barrier of its continuous din, and contemplating where its future lies.
Invisible characters and fleeting apparitions emerge from the depths: the nobleman from Torino and his undergraduate daughter, living in a small flat at the edge of the motorway; the Merlin-like palm reader, obsessively seeking a way to get rid of the larvae infesting his palm oasis; the prince engaged in early-morning gymnastics on the roof of his castle in the heart of the north-eastern suburbs; the photo storybook actor, a key figure on Rome film-making history, dogged in his search of fame and adventure on the motorway; the eel fisherman who has built a village on the waters under a southern Rome flyover. These characters, together with many other incredible apparitions, bring to life the world of Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA.
Rome’s 70-kilometre long GRA (Grande Raccordo Anulare) is Italy’s longest urban motorway. Few think of it as an urban space to explore. The landscape architect Nicolò Bassetti did, however, leaving his car at the side of the road to embark on a 300-kilometre journey to explore this mysterious place on foot, a journey enriched by encounters with countless extraordinary people along the way. He passed his experiences over to Gianfranco Rosi, as well as the idea of using them to tell a story in the format of his cinema del reale works.
Gianfranco Rosi, was born in Asmara, Eritrea, and has Italian/American dual nationality. He graduated in Italy, and then moved to New York in 1985 to study at the New York University Film School.
He produced and directed his first documentary Boatman after a trip to India. The film enjoyed success at various international film festivals (Sundance Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival) and has also been shown by major global broadcasters (BBC, PBS, WDR, RAI). He then directed “Afterwords”, screened at the 57th Venice Film Festival.
His first full-length film, “Below sea level”, filmed in Slab City, California, won the Orizzonti Doc and Doc/It awards at the Venice Film Festival in 2008, as well as the Best Documentary award at the Bellaria Film Festival, the Grand Prix and the Prix des Jeunes at Cinéma du Réel in 2009, the Best Film award at the One World Film Festival in Prague, the Vittorio De Seta award at Bif&st in 2009 as best documentary and was nominated in the best documentary category at the European Film Awards in 2009.
In 2010 he made “El Sicario – Room 164″, a full-length interview-style documentary about a Mexican hitman. The film provoked a variety of opposing critical reactions and won the Doc/it award as the best Italian documentary of the year.
He has directed several Pubblicità Progresso pieces and a number of shorts. He has also worked with Universal, Fox, Paramount and Dreamworks as a freelance dubbing supervisor and has been a guest lecturer at the New York University Film School, the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica in Mexico City and SUPSI in Lugano.