- Title: ITALY: Euthanasia film "Bella Addormentata" debuts in Venice
- Date: 6th September 2012
- Summary: VENICE LIDO, ITALY (SEPTEMBER 6, 2012) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) DIRECTOR MARCO BELLOCCHIO SAYING: "I wanted to show a sense of the state of the nation of Italy at the time and I sought to tell what happened in those days. All of Italy had a stance, everyone had taken sides, in one way or another." VENICE LIDO, ITALY (SEPTEMBER 5, 2012) (REUTERS) BELLOCCHIO AND CAST MEMBERS OUTSIDE VENICE CASINO AHEAD OF NEWS CONFERENCE AND PHOTOCALL CAST MEMBER MICHELE RIONDINO, ALBA ROHRWACHER AND MAYA SANSA WALKING OVER TO FANS TO SIGN AUTOGRAPHS VARIOUS OF SANSA SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS ACTOR GIAN MARCO TOGNAZZI SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS NEAR SANSA AND RIONDINO PHOTOGRAPHERS CAST LEAVING ACTRESS ISABELLE HUPPERT SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS ACTOR TONI SERVILLO POSING FOR PHOTOS WITH FAN BELLOCCHIO AND CAST MEMBERS ENTERING BUILDING VENICE LIDO, ITALY (SEPTEMBER 6, 2012) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) DIRECTOR MARCO BELLOCCHIO SAYING: "He is a very discreet man, a person I have much admiration for. Before I started writing the screenplay I felt the need to ask him, to tell him that I wanted to do something different but basing on those days. He was readily available and told me that I should do what I wanted. There is a respect between us."
- Embargoed: 21st September 2012 13:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Reuters ID: LVA6KMAU8VG9N7MXQY6XH2JRREES
- Story Text: A 2009 right-to-die case that deeply split public opinion in Catholic Italy is at the centre of a new film exploring the themes of euthanasia, suicide and religious faith that is vying for top prize at the Venice festival.
"Bella Addormentata", which translates as Sleeping Beauty, is set in the final days of Eluana Englaro, a 38-year old woman who had been in a coma since a car crash 17 years earlier and became a household name in Italy when her father decided to suspend artificial nutrition.
Mixing real TV footage and fictional characters, director Marco Bellocchio recreates the heated debate that surrounded Englaro's death.
"I wanted to show a sense of the state of the nation of Italy at the time and I sought to tell what happened in those days. All of Italy had a stance, everyone had taken sides, in one way or another," Bellocchio said.
Outside the clinic where she was hospitalised, pro-life activists clashed with euthanasia supporters; inside parliament, lawmakers traded insults as then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to ram through a bill that would have forced doctors to resume feeding her through a tube.
Englaro died as senators discussed the bill in a late-night session.
Against that backdrop, the film's four main characters offer their diverse and conflicting points of view on end-of-life and free will issues and the moral dilemmas they raise.
While the film is clearly more sympathetic towards secular opinions, Bellocchio said he had deliberately avoided taking a firm stance by giving voice to a variety of perspectives.
He said he had spoken about the film with Eluana's father, Beppino Englaro, who battled his way through Italian courts for a decade to have her feeding tube removed, becoming a symbol for right-to-die advocates.
"He is a very discreet man, a person I have much admiration for. Before I started writing the screenplay I felt the need to ask him, to tell him that I wanted to do something different but basing on those days. He was readily available and told me that I should do what I wanted. There is a respect between us," Bellocchio said, adding that he was meeting Englaro, who has seen the film, the next day.
Veteran Italian actor Toni Servillo plays a senator from Berlusconi's centre-right party torn between political loyalty and personal convictions, and also struggling to find common ground with his daughter, a Catholic pro-life activist.
Isabelle Huppert is cast as the Divine Mother, a famous actress who turns to religion in the hope of reawakening her own daughter from a vegetative state. And a drug-addict sees her attempts to take her own life repeatedly thwarted by a young doctor.
"The movie really raises the issues and make really people think what would I do? Because even...well, it's all about having the freedom of doing something but freedom is not the ultimate answer because what do you do with this freedom, you know? It's one thing to have the freedom in theory but in practise, what do you do if you are given the freedom to do it, do you actually do it?" Huppert said.
Bella Addormentata is one of three Italian titles in the main competition at the Venice festival, whichon Saturday (September 8).
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