Videocracy (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/06/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Riveting, well made and genuinely unsettling documentary that should be on the syllabus of media and politics courses everywhere.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Erik Gandini, Videocracy examines the effect of President Silvio Berlusconi's stranglehold on the Italian media, noting that his empire began with a TV quiz show in which viewers called in to answer questions and, if they got one right, a woman in the studio removed an item of clothing. Today, the majority of what passes for entertainment on Italian TV is directly descended from that show, with most quiz and talent shows containing hundreds of scantily-clad girls, frequent page 3-style nudity and permanently smiling beautiful people.

Interspersed with a general overview of what Gandini refers to as “the television of the President” are the stories of a handful of individuals who each provide an interesting perspective on the media. They include: muscle-bound mechanic Ricky Canevali, who's desperate to be a TV star and auditions constantly, hoping producers will go for his unique blend of Jean-Claude Van Damme-style fighting and Ricky Martin-style singing and dancing; powerful media insider Lele Mora, who has the connections to turn people into TV stars; Berlusconi's neighbour Marella Giovannelli, who uses her privileged access to sell exclusive pictures of celebrities to magazines; Big Brother director Fabio Calvi; and, most intriguing of all, Fabrizio Corona (an ex-assistant to Mora), who sells incriminating pictures of celebrities to the celebrities themselves, then becomes a media celebrity himself after serving time for extortion.

The Good
The statistics make for chilling reading: Berlusconi owns three national TV channels and therefore controls 90% of Italian television – he also owns every single gossip magazine. It's no surprise then, as a caption at the end of the film informs us, that Italy is ranked 77th in the world list of freedom of the press.

The Great
Gandini's clips and subjects are well chosen and there are several entertaining moments. Highlights include: Mora cheerfully admitting he's a Mussolini fan and proudly showing off Mussolini anthems on his phone, swastikas and all; Marella revealing a fantastic picture of a tanned and grinning Tony Blair; and Berlusconi's deeply disturbing campaign song “Thank God Silvio Exists!”, sung by beautiful, smiling, ‘ordinary’ women, which is reminiscent of proper, old school propaganda.

Worth seeing?
Videocracy is an impressively directed, genuinely fascinating documentary that is well worth seeking out. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Videocracy (15)
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Content updated: 17/07/2018 07:11

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