Looking back to the film production of 2023, I believe that we, as out-of-time film lovers, have to be happy for such a quantity of engaging and (politically) engaged movies. Movies such as “The Zone of Interest” and “Oppenheimer” have the credit of re-opening the discussion about pivotal themes, approaching a large audience with complex reflections about the basics of our society: what is good and what is evil? Where are the boundaries between an action and its consequences? Where do our responsibilities as members of a society lay? Does science have to be free of exploring in every direction, or are there limits to the research? Moreover, the two films put again on stage the war as a direct effect of wrong choices, wrong conclusion of a logical chain of arguments; war is again behind the curtains of our lazy daily life; the divestment of our humanity (not as single persons but as community) is the poisoned fruit of a rational, economical and logistic approach to science, diversity, politics. But Glazer and Nolan's films were not the only ones that dealt with such themes. That’s why I talk about a lucky year for Cinema: a lot of films were dealing with politics, social issues, war. Everyone can search for his own route drawn by different movies along this path, maybe following the terrifying journey depicted by “Io Capitano” by Matteo Garrone until its end in a dismissing pub in “The Old Oak” by Ken Loach: when did “our sense of humanity go down the drain” (quoting Bob Dylan's Not Dark Yet lyrics)? Of course, it’s not on the films to answer this question. And not a single film can pretend to answer the undercurrent question: what to do? Garrone leaves his protagonists on the edge of the border of a new world; they look like Columbus; they are discovering Europe, and it will not be a nice discovery. Loach has no choice but to hope for the wounded community to take its own destiny again into its own hands, but it is a dream, a hope, something that lies somewhere in the future, unclear and unfair. A couple of other films get into a stronger determination, drive their characters to an end that sets them free, and put a huge question mark into the head of the audience. “Green Border” won the Jury Prize in Venice, and its director Agnieszka Holland realized some critical “political” movies in the past, and this film is again the case. “Green Border” is a run into the woods between Belarus and Poland. We run together with groups and single refugees used as weapons by both governments in a sadistic war of borders and nationalism. We know the story, it was on all newspapers: forest, cold, fences, wires, soldier, violence, death. This is our European border. Holland has no pity for us in showing the torment of these poor people haunted by soldiers, thrown as packages all over the fences. She tells her story with a cold, direct style: black and white, no heroes, no love, no hope. But... When I was watching “Green Border”, it was like I had been punched by a heavyweight boxer until I realized that Holland was, in truth, asking me to decide which side I was on; she was asking me to take part in the story. The confusing and confused volunteers who were helping the refugees, the middle-class family who took them into their house were on the screen to tell me that Resistance is possible, that Resistance is a choice. To change our life is a matter of changing the answer from “no” to “yes”: the characters decide to say “yes” to the help of the refugees, no matter what. After the first “yes”, is the cause-effects chain changed, forever? Who knows. Holland’s movie is about that, even soldiers can change their mind and it is not an utopian future, it is a possibility in the present. That’s why the conclusion of Holland’s film is much more appealing and engaging than Loach’s.

The other film was a sort of meteor, at least in Italian cinemas, it is “Bastarden” ("The Promised Land") by Nikolaj Arcel, a Danish director known for another film about a historical Danish topic. Also “Bastarden” takes place in 18th century and at first glance it is a story of individual fight for survive, a clash of a strong personality against the world, in a way it is a sort of western movie that takes place in Jutland. Again, I found a "but" in watching it. What happens to the community (even a small and poor community such as the one in the film) when the Power decides to destroy and violate it, using any kind of mean tool to push it in the mud? For how long can we bear a Power out of control, so rich that we can’t even get its richness, so cruel that goes beyond humanity? Are we entitled to have a reaction? Who can help us against the Power? The film soon becomes a clash not of a single man but of Poor People against the Power. Probably, this goes even beyond the intention of the director, but what we see on screen is again the Resistance, the changing of the answer, the Poor that stands again on his own legs. The solution given by the film needs to be seen but its echo is still on my mind: “Be careful, you the rich”. It may be absurd to leave a cinema with an optimistic attitude, but unexpectedly, both films left me in this mood.