After the India of Varanasi’s boatmen, the American desert of the dropouts, and the Mexico of the killers of drugtrade, Gianfranco Rosi has decided to tell the tale of a part of his own country, roaming and filming for over two years in a minivan on Rome’s giant ring road—the Grande Raccordo Anulare, or GRA—to discover the invisible worlds and possible futures harbored in this area of constant turmoil. Elusive characters and fleeting apparitions emerge from the background of the winding zone: a nobleman from the Piemonte region and his college student daughter sharing a one-room efficiency in a modern apartment building along the GRA; a botanist making audio recordings of the interiors of palm trees to detect and then poison the insects that are devouring them like a plague; a modern day cigar-smoking prince doing gymnastics on the roof of his castle, surrounded by the sea of new apartment buildings proliferating around him; a paramedic in an ambulance eternally on duty treating car accident victims along the vast road; and an eel fisherman living on a houseboat beneath an overpass along the Tiber River. Far from the iconic sites of Rome, the GRA is a repository of stories of those at the edges of the everexpanding universe of the capital city.
- Golden Lion Award - Venice IFF
- Silver Giraldillo - Seville IFF
- Big Stamp Award - ZagrebDox IDFF
- Gianfranco Rosi
- Gianfranco Rosi
- Jacopo Quadri
I carried Italo Calvino’s INVISIBLE CITIES with me as I was scouting locations for the film. It is a book about travel, which I see as a relationship between a place and its inhabitants in the desires and the confusion that are generated by city life, and that we ultimately draw into ourselves. The book advances along myriad paths and allows itself to be carried along by a series of mental states that overtake and overlap one another. It has a complex structure that the reader can navigate depending on his state of mind and life circumstances. The book led me forward during the many months working on the film when the real GRA seemed to elude me, more invisible than ever.
- DOC & FILM INTERNATIONAL
A humorous, humanistic approach enlivens an inventive documentary feature
His most compassionate and strangely satisfying work to date
A gentle observational documentary.
...I wanted the audience to go through the same feeling as me. If people could feel what we were feeling in the room, the film could work.
Born in Eritrea in 1964 during the country’s war of independence, he was evacuated to Italy without his family in 1977. He then lived in Rome and Istanbul before taking up studies at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York in 1984. His graduation film, BOATMAN (1993), screened at festivals like Sundance, Locarno, Toronto and Amsterdam, followed by AFTERWARDS (2001) which premiered at Venice Film Festival. BELOW SEA LEVEL, which he directed, photographed and produced, premiered in Venice in 2008 and won the Orizzonti Doc Award, the Grand Prix and Prix Des Jeunes at Cinema Du Reel Paris and was nominated for the European Film Academy Awards 2009. His documentary about Rome, SACRO GRA, won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2013. His most recent work, FIRE AT SEA (2016), was the Golden Bear winner at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.