Release date:February 12, 2010
Starring:Silvio Berlusconi, Flavio Briatore, Fabrizio Corona, Rick Canelli
With the recent assault on Berlusconi in Milan where a man threw a statuette at the prime minister hitting him in the face and causing considerable injury, and the subsequent notice by his administration that the government would seek tighter controls on Facebook and other social networking sites which they claim “instigate” violence against the prime minister, this elucidating probe of Italian mass media and political skullduggery comes to U.S. audiences at a bizarre and critical moment in Italian history. Thirty years ago, Silvio Berlusconi bought a local television channel and aired a late-night quiz show featuring a sexy housewife who took off her clothes to reward callers for correct answers. The only complaints came from local factories whose employees stayed up late to watch and were too tired to work the next day. From then on, Berlusconi’s empire grew and his shows became evermore heavily populated with half-naked women known as veline, young starlets charged with posing and dancing sexy and silent next to the host. How can one explain the devolution of the politics and media culture of Italy in the age of its current prime minister and media emperor Silvio Berlusconi? As the owner of Mediaset, he controls the majority of the country’s private television stations, and other media outlets such as, for example, Medusa, the country’s largest motion picture producer. As Italy’s political leader, he maintains considerable control of the state-run RAI channels, affording him an unprecedented hybrid of executive power and private interest to control the airwaves — and to numb the minds of the populace and unapologetically shape public opinion to his financial and political benefit. Cut to August of 2009 when, as reported by the Associated Press, the powers that be at RAI and Mediaset channels refused to broadcast the trailer of the a small independent film called Videocracy (just prior to its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival) calling the spots “offensive to the honor and personal reputation of the prime minister.” The film dared to probe the methods and lives of key players in Berlusconi’s empire, examining how they thrive in the secret leveraging of their own conflicted interests in the realms of fame, politics and finance.