Friday, September 19, 2008

Uno Degli Ultimi

Uno Degli Ultimi
Directed by Paul Zinder
Showcase 2 of the DC Short Films Festival

Uno Degli Ultimi (“One of the Last”) is a 12-minute long documentary directed by Paul Zinder (who, interestingly enough, is a professor at The American University of Rome. Holla!). This film was part of the Showcase 2’s block of awesomeness: PATH, One of the Last, and The Replacement Child. The lone documentary in the showcase, its warm tone allowed the audience’s emotions to slowly adapt from the humor of PATH to the dark but touching tone of The Replacement Child.

The film profiles Mauro Selvetti, an elderly Italian farmer who is as ripe as the produce he cultivates. We see the farmer crouched down, scooping up cherries and grapes from a farm he very clearly takes pride in. This subject piece works well because Selvetti looks at life through his work as a farmer. Most of us view farm work as dreaded manual labor. Selvetti wonders how he could do anything besides it.

The camerawork picks up on this, making the Italian countryside the backdrop of the film. As Selvetti relays his views of the world, Zinder shows us close-ups of the farmer picking potatoes from the ground and climbing tree to shake out mass amounts of olives. There are long, panning shots as well, but they always have Selvetti in them. This element works particularly well considering how much the film is about its subject. I found myself fascinated by Selvetti and his work. I couldn’t help but think of my great grandfather, an Italian farmer from Fardella, Italy, enjoying himself the same way Selvetti does.

As the credits rolled, I questioned whether or not the film would work as a feature. It probably wouldn’t, as it is so subject-intensive and involves no action or conflict. To me, that says a lot about the strengths and abilities of shorts over features.


Ashley Joyce said...

I really loved this film when I saw it in Showcase 2. It supports the old adage that "less is more."

Lance McCallion said...

This was a really nice film. Short and sweet. I agree about the placement in the showcase as well. One of my three favorites that night, along with Path and The Replacement Child as a matter of fact.

Ben said...

I think you're right that shorts can really focus in on an individual's story and give it great meaning (especially as Selvetti had such trenchant insights toward changes in the environment, social mores, etc.). No conflict, but 12 minutes of thought-provoking stuff.

kathryn said...

This was one of my favorite shorts in the festival. A great subject and some beautiful landscape and close-up shots. Glad to see it is getting noticed.

Alyssa said...

This was also one of my favorites! I like your description of Selvetti as being "as ripe as the produce he cultivates", because it really captures the image of him in the film.

Fran said...

your description makes this sound like an amazingly adorable film.

in an age of expose-like documentaries (or were they always like that?) this piece seems not only to be a nice relief from that, but also an inspiring short film about the beauty and vitality of life.