Futura – Review

FUTURA documentaryWhen you think of Italy, you no doubt think of rolling Tuscan hills; the freshest pizza and pasta; animated accents with equally animated gesticulation. You think of holidays, culture and history. It’s unlikely that you would spare a moment to ponder the youth of the country and the uncertain future they face in bel paese.

But that’s exactly what three prominent Italian filmmakers have done in their documentary, Futura. Pietro Marcello (the man behind 2019’s Martin Eden), Francesco Munzi (the director of hit TV series, Il Miracolo) and Alice Rohrwacher (2018’s Happy as Lazzaro) have combined creative forces to explore what life is like for young Italians on the cusp of adulthood.

The directing trio travel across the country – capturing the bright lights of la citta eterna and smaller, rural towns. At each pit stop, they try to assemble groups of friends or classmates in order to showcase as broad a representation of youth as possible. The striking close ups – some met with cheeky grins or defiant stares, others met with giggles and coy shyness – are gorgeous to look at. There’s a distinct home video feel in its “unpolishedness” and it really adds to the veracity of the overall piece.

What makes Futura so compelling is the singular message that echoes across the country – that there is no future there. For so long, countries such as Italy have worried about the “brain drain” of young people leaving their homelands behind to seek better opportunities … it seems like the cycle is happening again. Whether it’s in big cities or small towns, most of those interviewed agreed that there are no prospects. No decent money making opportunities; no steady jobs; no chance to pursue your wildest dreams.

And for the most part, their wildest dreams aren’t the ubiquitous cries of fame and fortune (although, there are several wannabe footballers featured). They are things like getting married, owning a car, being able to afford a home, being able to provide for your family. These aren’t outlandish asks and it almost feels incredulous that a seemingly modern, thriving country should have their youth so panicked.

What’s most surprisingly is some of the more traditional views expressed by the subjects. Many fear that social media – Instagram in particular is singled out – is preventing people from living their real lives. They talk about a loss of connection; a loss of community; a loss of common purpose. The pandemic, which is prevalent throughout the film, has perhaps exacerbated these feelings. Some wistfully talk of times when entire neighbourhoods came together to help each other out – it’s a nostalgia that feels like it should belong to a much older generation.

FUTURA documentaryThey are also fed up with being ignored by politicians who are “obsessed” with taxes, pensions and immigration. Many speak passionately about how they would redistribute wealth and opportunities. But, when pressed about achieving this through protests or other such means, most recoil shyly and say it’s not for them to lead.

What this documentary captures really well is the uncertainty of adulthood. School seems so ordered and sheltered in comparison to the pressures of finding work or completing further education. Dreams can be shattered by reality or familial and social demands. Adulthood seems scary and isolating – particularly in the wake of a global pandemic. What once seemed black and white now seems many shades of grey. Many of the young adults interviewed in Futura do seem clear on what they want to do with their lives, but no one is entirely certain as to how they will achieve it.

At 105 minutes, the run time does seem a bit long, especially since conversations and themes repeat themselves. Cross-country, the youth are having the same crises and dreams, no matter what their background, region or educational history. This does give things a rather defeatist tone, especially since there is no sign of any solution on the horizon. However, it’s an honest portrait of the situation so that should be lauded. Interestingly, in what was such a staunch Catholic country, religion or religious views are barely mentioned – even with the Vatican looming over the Roman sunset.

Futura should, with any luck, serve as a wake up call to those making the major socio-political decisions in Italy. Whether it be a regional or national scale, the youth of the country are crying out for opportunities and amenities. Some just want a local football pitch; others want the certainty of being able to put food on the table. Neither should be ignored.

Futura will be in UK and Irish cinemas from July 8.

Mary Munoz
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