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“Dolce Fine Giornata”: Testing your Limits on Intellectual Freedom

“Dolce Fine Giornata” is a Polish/French/Italian production that pokes at you like you are a rattlesnake in a pit. There is no safe side on this film. You, like the prodded snake may strike out with venomous hatred for the poet Maria Linde or you might pause and query the vulgar reality of her statement that terrorism is a work of art. I will leave you to decide what camp you are in. But think carefully and rationally on this point.

Maria Linde is a famous Polish poet living in exile in the countryside of the town of Volterra in Tuscany. Life is good. She is a shoo in for the Nobel Prize for literature.  A lovely villa, great wine and food and intellectual company. She lives in the villa with her husband Antonio and her daughter and two grandchildren.

She is also having a fling with an Egyptian Coptic Nazeer who owns a restaurant and inn.

The Tuscan dream begins to unravel with a nasty little suicide bomber detonating himself in a public square in Rome killing and maiming dozens of innocent pedestrians.

The next day Maria attends a ceremony at the town hall honouring her literary achievements. She states she is Jew who was born in communist Poland in 1955. She loves Europe despite the fact it created a culture that just about decimated Europe’s entire Jewish population. She acknowledges the great tragedy that occurred in Rome but that is “is hard to imagine it other than as a powerful work of art”. She then says she will refuse to accept a Nobel Prize. She then goes on to say Europe’s gift to those fleeing civil war and depressed economic conditions are refugee camps.

She is pulverized by her intellectual circle for her “irresponsible” comments. Yet there are those who support her statement. The locals burn down Nazeer’s establishment. Maria confides in her daughter that Arab immigrants are Europe’s new gypsies.

It seems clear from the film the influx of Arab refugees is literally causing the imminent collapse of Europe. The EU is sitting on a powder keg.

Maria’s husband and daughter and grandchildren leave her to face her fate which is very symbolic.

A wonderful soundtrack including bizarre 1960 Italian songs, Frank Sinatra and electric.

The director of the film makes the following statement: “In a multi-generational house, in a Tuscan province, not far from the old Etruscan city of Volterra, we look at its residents, different attitudes, different views of the world, a different vision of things in general. But most importantly, as if we were looking in a mirror, we are looking at ourselves. It is we who are forced to answer the difficult questions raised in the course of events.

The subject of the film is Maria Linde, a Polish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her not always explicit relations with her closest ones are evading a simple understanding of life. Her courage and uncompromising attitude arouse extreme emotions. You can either identify with it or reject it. Nothing is easy, and nothing is as it seems. I wanted to tell a story about life that cannot be caught up with.

The image of the great poet, moral authority and a widely admired artist gave me great possibilities. It helps, e.g., in the intellectual battle – her strong presence in history, from the first to the last scene, makes it much easier to use great words, without risking falling into pretentiousness or pathos.

My biggest challenge was to create a fictional, great poet credible in such a way as to be able to say through her life and actions, a few words about Freedom.

Thankfully, Krystyna Janda, an icon, joined me in this journey.”

Jacek Borcuch

Indeed Maria played by Krystyna Janda was the winner of the World Cinematic Special Jury Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. This 96-minute film is in Polish, Italian and French with English subtitles. It opens in Toronto at TIFF Bell Lightbox on October 11th.

For a trailer see

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