News  ·  08 | 08 | 2023

Vista Mare

A poetic and surrealist documentary revealing the hidden labor behind ‘a holiday in the sun’ in Italy's Northern Adriatic coastal resorts.


The works of young South Tyrolean filmmakers Julia Gutweniger and Florian Kofler are characterized by a recognizable style. Starting from Brennero/Brenner (2016), the first work dedicated to the village located near one of the most important and popular passes in Europe, the couple immediately found a very simple and essential language based on fixed shots, geometrically clean images and a relaxed editing. The cinema of Gutweniger and Kofler is basically observational. What speaks are the places represented, the people who populate them and the social dynamics. The two filmmakers seem fascinated by human interaction and the laws that govern it. They do not offer preconceived theses, but leave the viewer the freedom to draw conclusions or ask questions about the represented. If in Brennero/Brenner it is the border that is at the center, in Sicherheit123 (2019) it is the Alps and the system of securing the territory that become protagonists. Here in Locarno, the two directors, selected for the Semaine de la critique, present their third feature film, Vista Mare, in which they offer an unusual perspective on the mass tourism industry. To do so, they chose one of the iconic places of European tourism, namely the Adriatic coast of northern Italy. The film does not start in the middle of summer, as one would expect, but during the winter, that is, at the time when the first preparatory work for the following season begins. In the colder months, construction workers, sailors, platform ships, excavators and huge water pumping machines are engaged in the strenuous struggle to defend the wide sandy beaches of the Riviera, those that have contributed to its popularity, against the progress of the sea. In the background, the coastal landscape, made up of huge empty hotels close to the sea, appears ghostly, sometimes post-apocalyptic. On the mainland, entrepreneurs, craftsmen and workers, meanwhile, are busy producing new umbrellas and deck chairs, preparing hotels and restaurants, training staff and mise en place on refurbished beaches. Nothing can be left to chance. The world of work is placed at the center of the representation; The know-how of local entrepreneurship and above all of the seasonal workforce committed to ensuring hospitality and entertainment are in the foreground. There are many professional figures represented. One cannot help but be fascinated by so much competence, by the Schwarmintelligenz, by the collective intelligence, busy as bees, which is behind the tourist reception, in particular of this region. When the tourist season begins, however, this optimistic vision seems to break: so many efforts and skills are ultimately put at the service of a system made up of overcrowded beaches, unbridled consumption, abuse of the territory, plastic cathedrals and perpetual surveillance of spaces. Then there is another issue that the film mentions: with the short sequence that portrays the protest of a small group of seasonal workers organized in a grassroots union, the two filmmakers allude to the fact that the working conditions are often very bad in touristy places. The inclusion of this sequence seems to remind us that those who pay the price for our leisure and entertainment are sometimes those same workers that the film celebrates with delicacy and without emphasis.


Mattia Lento