Documentaries are terrific teaching tools, but it is rare to find a documentary that is so gracefully filled with humor as it tackles a tricky subject – do you stay in your home country or leave it, especially when the world adores your culture and language?
This year at the Full Frame Documentary film festival, I had the treat of watching “Italy: Love It or Leave It.” Not surprisingly, this film won several awards on the circuit including the Jury Award and Audience Award in Milan.
Faced with the exodus of several friends to other European hot spots, Gustav and Luca have to decide whether to join their friends in Berlin, Germany or remain in Italy. They rent an adorably tiny Fiat 500 and hit the road to visit iconic places while they ponder what to do.
Now, you may be thinking – Italy! Who in their right mind would CHOOSE to leave Italy? The wine? The beach? The rich history? The food? The films? The art? The fashion? Did I mention the food?
But Gustav and Luca quickly remind us of the less than perfect aspects of Italy to consider: outsourcing of manufacturing to other countries, the pollution (including a humorous visit to George Clooney’s estate at Lago di Como, which they claim is the most polluted lake in Italy!), the exploitation of immigrant farm workers, the inability for gay couples to legally marry, high unemployment and more.
The road trip is informative and sempre divertente (always fun)! Gustav and Luca interview Italians about issues impacting their decision to stay or go. They are hysterical – in a very natural way – as they banter back and forth about the pros and cons of being Italian in the 21st century. The scene outside of the Berlusconi trial will have you giggling yourself right out of your seat! Students will adore this film and learn from it as it is playful yet serious in content. Additionally, it is impossible not to fall in love with these two men as they road trip across Italy discussing the beauty of the landscape and revisit childhood memories while hearing the harsh reality of their inability to marry on the news.
The film is in Italian with subtitles, making it an excellent tool for language classes too. Educators can also use this film as a tool when studying the European Union, Italy, LGBT studies, politics and economics.