Stefano Accorsi’s failed ambitions in L'Arbitro
by Vittoria Scarpa
- In Paolo Zucca’s film debut, which pre-opened the 10th edition of Venice Days, the actor plays an international referee who finds himself overseeing a final in Sardinia’s third division
The world of football is varied: there are the large stadiums, where the eye loses itself among lights and geometric bleachers, and then there are the small, provincial fields, full of dust and holes. On the one side, you have athletes, their statuesque figures and state of the art equipment, on the other you have good humoured men whose physiques leave a lot to be desired. The top division and the regional small leagues may be distant, but they have one common objective: to run after the ball – whether or not it is buoyant and shiny or discoloured and deflated. In L'arbitro [+see also:
film profile], Paolo Zucca’s grotesque comedy debut, the two universes unexpectedly and paradoxically meet.
Paradox is at the centre of Zucca’s entertaining film, chosen as a pre-opener to the 10th edition of the Venice Days. Prospero, who coaches the Atletico Pabarile, the third division’s worst team is paradoxical. The arrival of Cruciani, an ambitious world-renowned referee is paradoxical too. The man arrives in Sardinia to oversee the final between Pabarile and Montecrastu, led by an arrogant Brai, who enters bars on horseback and whips his players in the changing rooms.
For Cruciani, who captures Stefano Accorsi’s essence, the situation is a punishment for selling himself (and being discovered) while working on an important European final. His moves, rehearsed at length in front of a mirror, were destined for a Champions League game. Instead, he finds himself picking up dust and Sardinian insults. Shot in black and white, with a Ciprì and Maresco type atmosphere, sprinkled with musical and western overtones, stuffed with archaic characters and corrupt leaders, love and emigration, the film mocks football’s sacredness. “The referee is a Christ-like character, a perfect scape goat,” Zucca underlined. “We found approaching football and its rites with religious symbolism to be entertaining.”
Black and white was chosen to “extract the film from current events.” Even if the film is full of facts reminiscent of real life, such as the Moreno referee, who in 2002 threw the Italian team out of the world cup (he is called Mureno and is played by Francesco Pannofino), the Calciopoli scandal and fixed matches. “I listened to all of the tapes, I studied a lot,” the director admits. “But then I forgot names and particulars but stayed close to the language of the cheaters.” “Deep down,” Prospero says, “the ball is nothing but air covered in leather,” as such it flies, but it also often deviates.
Produced by Classic and Bd Cine, in collaboration with Rai Cinema and contribution from MiBAC (the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities), L'Arbitro will be coming out in movie theatres on September 12, distributed by Lucky Red.
(Translated from Italian)