Director: Gianfranco Rosi
Country of origin: Italy, France
Release Year: 2013
Runtime: 87 minutes
Awards: Golden Lion 70Venice Film Festival
It took the Italian director, Gianfranco Rosi, three years to make this film and document the life around something that urbanists consider to be the murderer of the community - the widest highway in Italy, relentlessly dividing the urban tissue into the impassable interior (Rome) and exterior (periphery). The capital's beltway is officially called Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA) and Fellini defined it as the Ring of Saturn; the director added an adjective sacro to its name, causing the connotation with a halo.
What may be so special about a seventy-five-kilometer-long highway? It turns out that it can reflect the entire society. Rosi shows a panorama of various characters with suburban landscapes in the background. He observes a father and daughter who live in a cramped flat, in an apartment building, and modern aristocrats. He devotes his attention to an eloquent Professor who measures the intensity of the noise and to a not so young woman who prostitutes herself on the side of the eponymous road.
The beltway connects social classes, origins and professions. It also has its guard, an ambulance driver, who transports the Romans not only on a busy road, but also, like mythical Charon, carries them between the worlds.
On the one hand, the camera in the "Sacro GRA" scrutinizes the characters in a very intimate way; on the other hand, it creates a great metaphor of the eponymous ring that unites all the characters. The common denominator here is a peculiarly understood experience of what Rome is, that moves away from the tourist routes and replaces the St.Peter's Basilica or St. Angel's Castle with everyday reality of suburban joys and concerns. The director finds something sacred in them. The film awarded the Golden Lion at the last year's Venice film festival proves that uniqueness lies in the ordinariness and here is celebrated as sacred relics.