After a slew of documentaries from the US, not least Michael Moore’s prodigous output, here’s a reminder that Europeans can make political documentaries too. Viva Zapatero! is a pop at Italian prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi by Sabina Guzzanti, whose politically satirical TV programme was axed by Italian state broadcaster RAI for being “political” – after legal pressure was applied by rival media outfit Mediaset (proprietor: Silvio Berlusconi). Guzzanti then goes further and accuses RAI of being stacked with Berlusconi stooges, effectively his employees. Should a public service broadcaster be headed by political (ie Berlusconi’s) appointees? Of course not. Though precious few in Italy have had the balls to say so, such is Berlusconi’s power of patronage, for want of a better phrase. Guzzanti is one of the few who have risked her career to denounce him, and as well as doorstepping a few of the more overtly bent public officials, she marshals her arguments effectively and passionately during more discursive moments (some with impressionist Rory Bremner, a close British counterpart). Time has moved on and Berlusconi is no longer in power, but the wider argument holds. And with the media in his pocket, who knows when he’ll be back.
© Steve Morrissey 2006