Two Italian film directors describe Roman suburbs

Two Italian film directors discussed their new film Et In Terra Pax, which is set in a “Roman council estate” in the Roman suburbs.  Here is how they described these Italian suburbs:

?MB: I was thinking a lot about a story set in the Roman suburbs…

MB: We live in part of Rome both close to the centre and the suburbs, which was useful to observe without being involved. We like Roman suburbs, and we think that in suburbs you can breathe the real Rome. The centre is great but it’s for tourists, rich people or to spend Saturday nights. Real live [sic] is somewhere else…

Can you talk about the idea of the housing complex being like a prison?

DC: A lot of suburbs in Rome are characterized by this kind of view: big grey buildings, a kind of ghetto filled with people. A city can’t grow in this way because the risk is that people can be excluded from the rest of Rome. We consider the building we chose like another character, a metaphor for loneliness. It looks like a prison but it’s full of life and ready to explode (in a good or bad way) at whatever time.

Et In Terra Pax is not an international audience’s image of Italian life. Was it important to show this side of life?

DC: Sure, we think it’s very important to show the dark side our country, not only for international audiences but also for the Italians too.

Compared to the typical American portrayal of suburbs, the land of single-family homes, lawns, and kids running around, this is a different image: large apartment buildings built away from the vibrant city center and illustrating the “dark side” of Italian life.

This discussion hints at how some European suburbs differ from their American counterparts. While most Americans see suburbs as the refuge of the wealthy, some European suburbs are where the low-income apartment buildings are built. The center of the European city is the place to be, not the outskirts of a metropolitan region as in the American case.

I am also intrigued by the idea that the apartment building is treated “like a character.” Elsewhere, they say the building they filmed in was about 1 kilometer in length, housed about 14,000 people, and features “strange, fascinating and disturbing architecture.”

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