PIIGS: Fighting against the dogma of austerity
by Camillo De Marco
- Three Italian filmmakers challenge the dominant economic mindset and call into question the budgetary policies currently prevailing in Europe
PIIGS is the derogatory acronym that The Economist coined in 2008 to refer to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain – those European countries wallowing in severe financial crisis, those terrible and wicked nations with eternal structural problems. However, three Italian filmmakers – Federico Greco (Road To L [+see also:
interview: Andrea Marotti
interview: Federico Greco
film profile]), Adriano Cutraro and Mirko Melchiorre (All’ombra del gigante) – are challenging the dominant economic mindset with PIIGS - Ovvero come imparai a preoccuparmi e a combattere l’austerity (lit. “PIIGS – Or How I Learned to Worry and Fight Austerity”), a documentary that portrays the complex set of figures and statistics enveloping the continent’s economy, while simultaneously telling the stories and depicting the delusions of the people who find themselves having do the sums with those numbers every day.
The subtitle is a tribute to Dr Strangelove (Federico Greco is an expert on Kubrick – he made Stanley and Us, a 1999 documentary on the great master of cinema, produced by Rai and sold internationally by Rai Trade). And so this satire calls into question the prevalent budgetary policies and the dogma of austerity in Europe. But it does so by leaning heavily on the figures, after five years of research and two years of filming, in an unprecedented and uncensored immersion in this world. Through the voices of prestigious international economists, intellectuals and experts, it asserts that the origins of the European debt crisis do not lie in the inferiority of the people in the countries in crisis, but rather in the very fundaments of the euro. Big names such as Noam Chomsky (a philosopher and linguist described by the New York Times as “probably the greatest living intellectual”), Yanis Varoufakis (former Greek Minister of Finance), Stephanie Kelton (an economist in charge of the budget of the US Senate, and Bernie Sanders’ economic consultant), Warren Mosler (financial insider, money systems expert), Paul De Grauwe (London School of Economics), Erri De Luca (author) and Federico Rampini (journalist, La Repubblica) all make an appearance in PIIGS. Just to take one typical and universal example, PIIGS successfully followed the affairs of a social cooperative in the vicinity of Rome for two years – owing to cuts in social expenditure, the cooperative is about to close down, thus sending 100 employees home and leaving 150 disabled children without any support.
The film is currently at the post-production stage and is being produced by Studio Zabalik: to support the crowdfunding campaign, just head to the Indiegogo page.
(Translated from Italian)