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Daniele Vicari • Director

"What does it mean to live in a Democratic country?"


- "Everything we showed in the film really happened" explains the director of Diaz - Don't Clean Up This Blood.

The film about police violence during the Genoa G8 in 2001 will be screened in the European Parliament on May 15. For Vicari, the account of the callous beating at the Diaz school and the tortures which took place in the Bolzaneto barracks "speaks to the conscience of all European citizens. The fate of these young people who returned home after having been treated like terrorists derives from a suspension in civil rights in a democratic context, as defined by Amnesty. The film’s aim is precisely to raise a radical and violent question in the mind of the spectator, which does not only concern the political powers of Italy, Europe or the world, but each one of us: what does it mean to live in a democratic country? When civil rights take second place to political choices, that means democracy is not being exercised".

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How did you do your research and prepare the screenplay for Diaz - Don't Clean Up This Blood [+see also:
film review
interview: Daniele Vicari
film profile

Daniele Vicari: By examining the court proceedings, first of all. It was a above all a human rather than a work-based experience: the court proceedings reconstruct a narrative fabric linked to the Diaz victims who were then brought to the Bolzaneto barracks, they offer some clarifications on the fates of these people, what they really went through. And it takes us into a world which we should have been able to move past at least 150 years ago. When someone is arrested their physical and moral integrity should be respected. Instead, hundreds of policemen systematically denied hundreds of people any form of right, without any specific accusation. We also read articles, books, investigations, we saw video footage and met people who had experienced those incidents, victims and policemen, in order to to look them in the eye and to understand.

And yet the film lacks political contextualisation, there is no indication of who is responsible at the very top.
I didn’t want to do a historical-political reconstruction of the events, but rather to investigate their meaning. The most important thing when you are telling the story of something that really happened, is to fully respect it and to extract its significance: it is not up to cinema to construct theories, I’ve always been critical of the notion of “political cinema”. I’m not capable of doing historical frescos, as a viewer they don’t convince me, as director I see that type of narrative as inappropriate to cinema. When I tell you about the ways in which people were tortured, I am already telling you about the ideologies, the culture, the political context which produced them. My aim was not give answers, but to talk about the significance of what happened. The way in which people’s rights were suspended, they were physically and mentally devastated. If we had dared a political theory the question of democracy would have taken second place and for me that would have meant defeat.

How did you use the stock video footage?
In a total of 120 minutes we inserted 3 minutes of it, but were much inspired by the material which filmmakers produced during those days. Because the Genoa G8 was an extraordinary event also from a media point of view: hundreds of people who filmed every sinlge thing, even inside Diaz, of which there is a video which was confiscated and never found again. This material was an essential base on which to reconstruct the atmosphere. We analysed, saw and printed hundreds of frames, to participate in the climate of those days. The film is strongly influenced by the work of the filmmakers. That’s why I think that these days truth is revolutionary, using stock images in a film has become a narrative method, the viewer slowly becomes aware of having entered another dimension. Some directors are scared of using stock because those images are much better! Reportage is unbeatable.

Naturally you couldn’t recount everything and you needed to imagine those things which were not documented.
The level of betrayal of some stories is linked to dramaturgical rules. It was a job of combining, connecting all the events which we were able to report. The court proceedings involved hundreds of human stories. At the moment in which you choose what stories to tell you give up some of these. Things happened which for me were impossible to tell from a narrative point of view: the story of Alma, the girl played by Jennifer Ulrich, represents hundreds of people who were involved as she was. We decided to show her point of view in order to explain what was happening around her.

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