Synopsis by Josh Ralske
In 2003, the first episode of Italian comedian Sabina Guzzanti's satirical comedy program, RAIot, aired on RAI3. Guzzanti mocked Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with a startlingly effective impersonation (she is an attractive woman; he is not), and ridiculed the corruption and passivity of the Italian political system, left and right, that has enabled Berlusconi to gain so much power over Italy's broadcast media. Almost immediately, Berlusconi's media company filed a massive defamation suit against RAI. The suit would later be declared frivolous by a judge, but RAI, apparently knowing on which side its bread is buttered, used it as an excuse to cancel the troublesome program before another episode could air. RAI execs who had previously lauded Guzzanti's comedic skills and expressed excitement about the program now seemed to think of her as a menace. Politicians and pundits (from the right and the left) offered Guzzanti odd definitions of satire, including the notion that it "should make politicians appear more human," in order to demonstrate that what Guzzanti was doing was not satire, which would presumably be protected by Italy's free speech laws, but an inappropriate political diatribe. Guzzanti responded by making this documentary, Viva Zapatero!, in which she examines the current state of the Italian media, and the frightening degree to which it is controlled by Berlusconi, interviewing both her opponents and Italian journalists and entertainers whose careers have suffered due to perceived slights against the prime minister. She also speaks with satirists and journalists from other parts of the world, who express shock and revulsion at the extent to which dissent has been stifled on Italy's airwaves. Viva Zapatero! had its New York premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.
censorship, freedom-of-information, impersonation, Italy, media, political-power, politics, Prime-Minister, satire, suppression, television