Quo Vadis 2020 documentary review

★★★

Directed by: #GabrieleFabbro

Written by: Gabriele Fabbro

Starring: #YdalieTurk, #OliviaMatterson, #JessicaGhitis

Film Review by: Bruna Foletto Lucas


Quo Vadis 2020 is a documentary written and directed by Gabriele Fabbro, an Italian filmmaker who has just graduated from film school in the United States. Prior to taking important steps in their lives and careers, Gabriele invites his classmates to a two-week visit to Italy, interested to see what his friends would make of his country that is struggling with moving forward.

Fabbro’s documentary starts as a love letter to his home country, the shots are very nostalgic, and although he is interested in seeing his own country through his friends’ lenses, his Italian point of view is evident in his framing. Italy is shown in detail, small spaces between houses, the structure of a bridge, and a small crack in the pavement – those are the things which receive focus from Melanie Wick and Fabbro’s lenses. We are deliberately being shown details that enhance the beauty of Italy, albeit those details also enhance the decay of the country. This paradox is what hovers throughout the entire film shadowing the youth who are participating of this trip.

Through interviews with the recently-graduated filmmakers and with natives, we are given a narrative of love and hate, the majority of the young filmmakers find Italy beautiful and see themselves wanting to settle there, even if for a period of time, whereas the majority of the natives, though that is only prevalent in the beginning of the film, explain how much they would like to live somewhere else. Here we find the difference between a romanticised vision of something and the true reality of it. This can also be said of artists, from the outside viewer there is this idea that working in films is glamorous, but the reality is that sometimes it is necessary to say yes to jobs just in order to pay the rent. This parallel between Italy and the young filmmakers reaches another level as the title suggests. From the phrase in Latin, “quo vadis” means “where are you marching to?” – a question that Italy must answer as it struggles with moving forward and so do the young filmmakers who have just left school and will probably start their first jobs. In pondering this question, some others are raised – how to achieve happiness instead of perpetual content, and is happiness even something we should strive for? Economics comes into question when the idea of success is proposed - what does it mean to be successful and why is it equated with skyscrapers and big cities?

By no means does the documentary try to answer these questions, but it is in proposing them that the film makes us think about it. If anything, it is clear how some of the people involved in this film have put so much passion in it and have gone through a process of catharsis. It is quite enjoyable to go through this process with the group, and Italy is portrayed with such affection that it makes it difficult not to fall in love with it too.