A humanistic approach enlivens an inventive documentary feature about people living around Rome’s ring road, the “Grande Raccordo Anulare,” or GRA as it is colloquially known, which divides the city from the suburbs. Punning on the “Sacro Graal,” or “Holy Grail,” this intriguing documentary was singled out by Venice’s jury president Bernardo Bertolucci for its “poetic force,” and “Franciscan” regard for individuals and spaces. Not only this, it also holds the prestigious mantle of being the first documentary to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi (Below Sea Level, El Sicario: Room 164) camps in a minivan for two years on Rome’s giant 70km ring road, to capture the diversity, invisible worlds and possible futures of the residents living on the fringe. The characters he comes across include a paramedic, an impoverished nobleman, an eel fisherman, an actor, a prostitute and an expert in palm trees. Almost all of them are funny in an absurd, gentle way, making this intelligent film a curious triumph in the Italian film panorama.