Sacro Gra – Review by Eveleen Coyle Director: Gianfranco Rosi Screenplay: Niccolo Bassetti (story), Gianfranco Rossi Sacro GRA depicts life along the ring motorway around Rome, the Grande Raccordo Anulare and the people who work there, live there and farm there. It is the first documentary to win the prestigious Golden Lion at the the Venice Film Festival in 2013. It is such a clever concept documenting as it does the lives of people who inhabit the area and work beside the five lane highway that is the GRA. Except it doesn’t quite do that. And yet it has a quiet power that challenges us in what we want or expect from a documentary. Those we see are almost a forgotten people. We view and overhear them through their windows in a slightly voyeuristic way as they live their lives in huge anonymous apartments. Filippo dwells in his crumbling villa, another lives right beside the river, others along the motorway itself. We get quick glimpses into their lives but only that, a glimpse as the film moves in and out in a vague sort of way, seemingly without purpose at times. The strongest character is Roberto, a paramedic based on the GRA whose terrible job it is to respond to the many accidents almost as they happen. He cares tenderly for his aging, demented mother. Then there is Cesare the eel fisherman, a cameo that starts promisingly but fades away, and Francesco, an environmentalist determined to save the palm trees from an infestation of weevils. And the background is the land itself, tired fields with thin sheep. What this documentary does convey brilliantly is the relentless traffic and endless noise. Cars, trucks, buses and bikes fly by with no real awareness of the people living along the GRA. Living there is hard. Yet in the apartments again and again, people looking out from their box-like homes remark on the views, they love the view. Some can see St Peter’s basilica and the beauty that is Rome. Filippo loves his villa and the eel fisherman loves the river. Sacre GRA is well-made. The ending though is abrupt without really coming to any conclusion, but perhaps that is to leave us thinking?
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