An article in today’s La Repubblica reports that Italian videobloggers are at work creating an “open source film” about the recent election there. A website called Nessuno.TV is putting together a project called Le mie elezioni (“My Elections”). Visitors to the site were invited to submit their own short films. Director Stefano Mordini plans to weld them together into an hour-long documentary in mid-May.
The raw materials are already on display: they’ve acquired an enormous number of short films which provide an interesting cross section of Italian society. Among many others, Davide Preti interviews a husband and wife about their opposing views on the election. Stiletto Paradossale‘s series “That Thing Called Democracy” interviews people on the street in the small towns of Serrapetrona and Caldarola about what’s important about democracy. In a neat twist, Donne liberta di stampa interview a reporter from the BBC about what she thinks about the elections. And Robin Good asks the children what they think.
Not all the films are interviews. Maurizio Dovigi presents a self-filmed open letter to Berlusconi. ComuniCalo eschews video in “Una notta terribile!”, a slideshow of images from the long night in Rome spent waiting for results. And Luna di Velluto offers a sped-up self-portrait of her reaction to the news on that same nights.
It’s immediately apparent that most of these films are for the left. This isn’t an isolated occurance: the Italian left seems to have understood that the network can be a political force. In January, I noted the popularity of comic Beppe Grillo’s blog. Since then, it’s only become more popular: recent entries have averaged around 3000 comments each (this one, from four days ago, has 4123). Nor is he limiting himself to the blog: there are weekly PDF summaries of issues, MeetUp groups, and a blook/DVD combo. Compare this hyperactivity to the staid websites of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and the Silvio Berlusconi Fans Club.
The Italian left’s embrace of the Internet has partially been out of necessity: as Berlusconi owns most of the Italian media, views that counter his have been largely absent. There’s the perception that the mainstream media has stagnated, though there’s clearly a thirst for intelligent commentary: an astounding five million viewers tuned in to an appearance by Umberto Eco on TV two months ago. Bruno Pellegrini, who runs Nessuno.TV, suggests that the Internet can offer a corrective alternative:
We want to be a TV ‘made by those who watch it. A participatory TV, in which the spectators actively contribute to the construction of a palimpsest. We are riding the tendencies of the moment, using the technologies available with the lowest costs, and involving those young people who are convinced that an alternative to regular TV can be constructed, and we’re starting that.
They’re off to an impressive start, and I’ll be curious to see how far they get with this. One nagging thought: most of these videos would have copyright issues in the U.S. Many use background music that almost certainly hasn’t been cleared by the owners. Some use video clips and photos that are probably owned by the mainstream press. The dread hand of copyright enforcement isn’t as strong in Italy as it is in the U.S., but it still exists. It would be a shame if rights issues brought down such a worthy community project.