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Reviews & Ratings for
Viva Zapatero! More at IMDbPro »

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56 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

Pity it is condemned not to be seen by most, not in theaters nor later...

Author: Dr_Nightfly from Milan - Munich
6 October 2005

I was brought to see this movie by a friend, not knowing of the extraordinary feedback it got from audience and most critics at Venice.

What a pleasant surprise! For someone who refers to herself as "just a jester" as Ms. Guzzanti does, in a bout of understatement, she does pull together a serious and impartial picture of the dismal state of freedom of speech in Italy, how downtrodden it has been by few who hold the power and how (too) many never felt obliged to stand up and denounce the sorry state of things. She is one of the few who did, and paid by being ostracized from possibly all main TV channels, making a row of enemies for herself even among those whose political stance should be closer to hers, or those who should have the moral integrity to stand by her.

Since those enemies are very well aware of the potential of this "Italian Farenheit 9/11" as some movie critic has aptly labelled the movie, it is no surprise that there are only 55 screens showing it in Italy - as per the information on the official movie site - and definitely not the ones in the "mainstream" distribution, mainly owned or influenced by those people and companies whose interests are exposed - as was to be demonstrated. Trailers are also conspicuously absent from all usual TV spots for movies, and I am yet to see a single interview to people involved in Viva Zapatero - a further confirmation.

There is a strong autobiographical streak in the movie, recounting the sometimes grotesque events that led to her defenestration from RAI (public Italian) television and the clumsy, embarrassed, and unfortunately, ignorant justifications brought forward by the individuals involved. This storytelling choice could not have been avoided, though I would have preferred a wider series of cases which would have underlined the systematic quenching of any dissenting voices, both satirical and from independent media at large, which is taking place in Italy, and the equally systematic lack of response from the "opposition" which seems to willingly favour a less free system that they may have the fortune to be handed control over, after elections next year.

This movie is a funny, stimulating and valiant attempt at bringing a fundamental change in a country's basic political debate, open up eyes and provide people with a further tool to analyse the causes of the paralysis of its political system. However, I am afraid, it will not be seen by all those in Italy who would most greatly benefit from watching, neither in theaters, nor in its further incarnations, nor very much understood in its deep societal impact abroad.

Maybe Ms. Guzzanti would be best served by distributing it on the net for free, and by having her producers / distributors follow Michael Moore's lead by not charging fees for public free viewings. Low circulation of this satirical documentary would serve best only the interests of those Ms. Guzzanti is fighting against.

Final note: on the morning after I saw Viva Zapatero, Time Magazine named Beppe Grillo, one of the people whose story is very similar to Ms. Guzzanti's, who also appears in the movie, one of the "European Heroes 2005." Guzzanti is a strong candidate for 2006.

That was my comment, safely composed from Munich, under pseudonym...

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Sabina Guzzanti vs The Indifference

Author: pierlorenzodangelo from Italy
19 January 2007

What a terrifyingly truthful document. That's what we are and, probably, what we'll always be. Us Italians. What a shame that the protests, usually, take place at a bar but what it comes to, at the end,is just a shrugging of shoulders followed by a "What Can I Do About It?" We, Italians, allow this things to happen because we don't care enough about anything. We have the leaders that we deserve and this is true for the rest of the world as well but look at what we deserve! What a shame, what a shame, what a shame! "Viva Zapatero" released in theaters seemed a step in the right direction but how many people have actually seen it? The scenes with a massive crowd assisting to the show after the banning from RAI brought tears to my eyes and a glimmer of hope creeped up into my system, just a glimmer that has long gone and disappeared. What a shame, what a shame, what a shame!

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Just a little bit of history repeating

Author: MovieJunke from Slovenia
17 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The point of fascistic regimes is to pass unnoticed.

I'd only give an 8 to this courageous documentary because it lacks directorial power and experience, for the rest, it's an analysis of the present situation in the Italian television system, which naturally entails an overview of its social situation seeing as pretty much all the principal TV networks belong to or depend on Italy's PM Silvio Berlusconi.

Guzzanti's reason for making the film was first of all the fact that her show was cancelled without any justification (but, as the film proves, with excuses that, once proved unfounded, kept on being used by the executives and politicians to avoid Guzzanti's return on TV). So if there was censorship for a satirical show it is quite obvious she couldn't have broadcast a documentary ON censorship on TV. Which is why the only means she had available to make her resentment public were theatres. In cinema, in fact, not everything is yet Berlusconi's.

Freedom of speech in Italy is an endangered species - few may notice that, especially if they do not live in Italy or if they are not familiar with its current situation (or haven't been for long enough). Having one and the same TV show on every single channel at any time of day has a very specific goal. Meaning that broadcasting mind-numbing TV series, even more mind-numbing reality shows, talk shows (basically, scream shows), avoiding serious issues not only at various TV panels but even during prime-time TV news ... All of that sends out messages to the public. Television is perhaps the most powerful among the mass media (as opposed to books, which have become the least powerful, and if only there were a way to have them banned forever...) and manipulating people certainly is not something new.

Surely, documentary's such as Guzzanti's (though less than Moore's) can be seen as manipulative. But knowing the background of her story, one can CHOOSE to disagree or take their distance. Knowing there's a satirical show on TV at 9 PM still gives you a choice to watch something else instead. On the other hand, cancelling a show about political satire because the leadership of the network (i.e. the leadership of the country) feels threatened gives those who would be interested in watching the show absolutely NO CHOICE whatsoever. So their freedom is pretty much thrown out of the window. Which is the reason for the wide response Guzzanti had with her live performance as well as with this documentary.

Furthermore, I must point out that this film does not suggest that everything "left" is good in the least. On the contrary, relevant blunders made by opposition left officials (former coalition members) make Italy's Left look pretty much the way it should be seen: spineless, submissive, disjointed, incoherent. They had the chance to pass an act on the conflict of interests when they were in power, but since rumour had it Berlusconi was going down anyway, they thought it was unnecessary to give him that extra blow. What IS that? So what, are laws made for or against single persons, no matter who's in power? Is an act on (i.e. against) conflict of interests something to apply only in case Berlusconi should win? Can they spell bull...?

Guzzanti's film certainly does not imply that Berlusconi is always bad (though I can't think of one single thing he did good except for shunning his legal problems). It only deals with his abuse of power in relation to public television. That IS a wide subject, but the film does not go any further. And why should it? Eminent people lost their jobs because they criticized Berlusconi's political moves. In no other civilized country such criticism can be seen as a good reason to fire a good and reputable journalist. It's just unacceptable and scandalous. Yet it happened, and went practically unnoticed. And this is how freedom of speech is censored, and with it goes freedom of thought.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk once said, "He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap." I do believe money and greed are today's true religion.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Very meaningful and convincing

Author: lolacorre from Netherlands
16 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sabina convinced me. I am one of those Italians who did not stand up for her at the right moment. I did not realize what was going on. Of, course, I live hundreds miles away, I could feel less responsible. But on the other hand... I could have seen, and I should have cared. I am happy she was able to show me this. I am happy I have been able to see this, after all. Through her eyes, I have seen very clearly how the whole press campaign against her has worked. And I have been able to realize how much influence it had had even on myself at that time. I realize I have actually given up to the thought "well, she probably exaggerated", at that time. Shame on me! What is satire if not exaggeration? What is art if not offering your own point of view? Sabina's fault: she has been too good at doing it! It might have been too honest, too open, too convincing. Why the press campaign against her mostly worked? Because good part of the Italian middle class is scared of failure. They feel uncomfortable thinking that tomorrow morning Silvio Berlusconi, their good severe daddy, will grin at them again from the TV, as usual, and say, as usual, that all what they feel is actually wrong. What they saw yesterday night was not, as they thought, a funny, liberating, show. No. It was bad quality political propaganda. And they failed. They failed because they laughed. They should be grown ups, they should be capable of containing their excessive joy. They should not aim for liberation, they should aim for money and career, like him. Look at this, what they are seeing now, his grinning face, this is good quality TV. This is something to be proud of. Forget fun. Forget freedom. Take a fake smile from a fake daddy and carry on. That's the most you can hope for in life.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

excellent movie

Author: murg-2 from Norway
22 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I try to keep up with world news, and as Italy's not that far away I did pick up on the fact that Berlusconi was trying to own the Italian media. What I didn't realize was how many people were useful idiots on the way, something that would have to be a necessity in order to impose these undemocratic rules in a democracy. This movie describes what to many of us seem impossible, that in a regular democracy it is fully possible to start stripping off what we regard as fundamental rights. How can it be that easy, to impose censorship? I think the movie shows this in a clearifying manner, and may open you eyes to the importance of a free and independent press.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

the first step towards some real "freedom of speech"

Author: echobase from London
1 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the era of Michael Moore-like documentary-makers this film was long due! I've been living out of Italy for about 15 years now and my first reaction while watching this film was a certain guilt and shame to be part of a country where the term "freedom of speech" was so loose! Yet, the ending of the film could not have been more optimistic: Seeing all those (mainly young) people at the end of the film standing in line to watch Guzzanti's second part of her satirical show made me realise that the future for Italy is not as dark as you might think and after all. I really should be proud of being part of a Country where actually just a few people at the top are corrupted but most of the others have a real will to change things, and hopefully things will change soon! But, I'm digressing, back to the film! Stilistically the film is a bit all over the place (spilt screens happen completely arbitrarily, jump cuts, bad rostrum shots of newspapers and so on), the whole thing seems to be cut on Final Cut Pro or some cheap editing system by somebody who wants to try to new FX here and there for no apparent reason, but luckily all this doesn't matter, since the subject itself and the argument for the film are so strong that you hardly notice anything else but the real content. And that's the way it should be. The film sadly is very Italian and assumes everybody knows most of the people who are being interviewed. And it's a shame because it would not have needed a lot more to make it a little bit more appealing to the rest of the world. Surely it could have done with some more background information and some more archive clips from some of the other comedian who have been censured just to get an idea of what kind of stuff they stand for (I.e. Grillo, Paolo Rossi etc) . I'm sure a lot of foreigners will get lost in the hundreds of names that are mentioned. But sorry, I'm just picking needles: I guess I just want this film to be seen by as many people as possible, because I know that this is the only way to make a change! But as long as Italians watch it I'll be happy! Well done Guzzanti, but please don't stop now!!

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4 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Interesting view of Italy.

Author: sevs17 from Cardiff, UK
26 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film wants to be a view of the Italian political scene. While everybody knows the feelings of Miss Guzzanti which should be fully respected, one wonders why she claims that in Italy there is a type of dictatorship if she was allowed to make such a movie.

I watched the movie by mistake and because I have a hobby in politics found it interesting, but if you are not "anti-Berlusconian" like Guzzanti, this is a waste of time and money. It shows Italy in a complete bias way and seems that there is no freedom of speech. It shows that Berlusconi is always bad and that the left is always good.

I don't suggest the movie to anyone interested in Italian culture.

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