Erik Gandini's amazing documentary, Videocracy, is not what you think it is. Billed as a look into the impact Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made on his native Italy, the film (which begins its national release this weekend in New York) plays more like an abstract essay of ideas and theories. It's not experimental in nature or structure, but it's also far from a conventional documentary film. There's a mood and a style that feels like fiction, as you enter a world of murky characters and seedy behavior. Berlusconi is a man of the media, a mogul cut from the same cloth as Rupert Murdoch (mixed with some Simon Cowell).
He's hardly in Gandini's film, and instead we explore the lives of people who have been influenced in some way by the TV-obsessed culture Berlusconi has developed. The film is tough to shake, brimming with images of a life less ordinary and a publicity-minded environment that actually makes the U.S. look prudish. Weeks after seeing the film at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, I found myself still thinking about it and mulling it over. The issues associated with Videocracy, will never go away. Try to see it, either this weekend in Manhattan, or when it comes to your venue of choice.