Film Review: Futura

Reviewer: Dave Cunningham

Writer and Director: Pietro Marcello, Francesco Munzi and Alice Rohrwacher

With Futura Pietro Marcello, Francesco Munzi and Alice Rohrwacher set out to interview Italian teenagers, characterised as ‘’supernatural creatures’’ – not children but not adults, to determine their opinions on what their future is likely to hold. No-one could have predicted that part way through the process a pandemic would develop that would push the tone of the documentary towards being a diary of a plague year.

The filmmakers prompt the interviewees with basic questions on their hopes and fears for the future. Many of the replies are generic and could apply to any part of the world not just Italy. Respondents express hopes for greater tolerance in the future and fewer judgemental opinions.

Participants come from a wide range of backgrounds, yet express certain common opinions. Most respondents believe they will have to leave their country. This may be because of a belief the only way to achieve any change in Italy is to learn from other cultures and return and apply the knowledge at a later date. There are also practical considerations; a team of potential boxers agree they will have to leave to progress in their chosen profession as the only sport for which there is any enthusiasm in Italy is football.

This leads to one of the more eccentric responses. More than one interviewee sincerely believes the best way of developing greater community involvement in Italy is for the state to provide more football pitches. Sexual politics are refreshingly retro with a woman firmly of the opinion it is the duty of men to provide for the family.

Respondents from rural communities seem most satisfied with the status quo. One interviewee points to the tractor that was passed down to him from his grandfather and father and, in the fullness of time, will be bequeathed to his children.

Education is held in high regard but seen also as a symbol of inequality being available only to those with adequate finances. Work culture is also perceived as unfair with too many cash-in -hand jobs with limited prospects. The privileged are represented with interviewees at a posh riding academy acknowledging they do not feel any need to resort to self-harm.

Viewers outside of Italy may know the country as featuring political corruption, organised crime and high levels of Catholicism; yet these topics, along with sex, are not covered in the documentary. There are occasions when it seems the interviewees may be saying what they think is expected rather than their true opinions. Social media is apparently held in low regard with only a single dissenter claiming those who criticise are hypocrites addicted to their Instagram accounts. But then, as the teenagers seem unique in not having mobile phones permanently attached to their hands maybe the opinions are sincere.

The onset of the Covid pandemic does not derail the documentary. It is marked by a montage of visual changes – the sudden ominous use of face masks or people exercising alone or rushing through airports. The main impact of the pandemic on the documentary is to generate rare examples of protest with filmed marches and concern about a growing sense of anxiety and the feeling Covid exacerbates existing educational inequalities.

The documentary makers avoid expressing opinions about their subjects but draw attention to a lack of cultural and historical awareness. People attending celebrations of the Feast of St. Anthony do not know if it is a religious or secular event. Pupils are unaware of a notorious political crackdown on protests that occurred at the school they attend; although they make the point the event took place two years before they were born.  The high regard in which education is held is reenforced by black and white archive footage from a similar documentary showing the issue was a priority even in the past.

Futura is a surprisingly uplifting experience. Despite the youngsters believing they have no option but to leave their own country their dedication to education and positive outlook leaves viewers feeling optimistic.

Futura is released in UK and Irish cinemas from 8 July 2022.

The Reviews Hub Score:

Surprisingly uplifting

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