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FOR LUCIO (2021, ITA) – 7/10

After switching from documentaries to feature films with the film “Martin Eden” for a short time (and extremely successfully!), Italian Pietro Marcello decided to return to his documentary field. His documentary “Per Lucio” or “For Lucio” premiered in Berlin, which could really be described as a tribute to the legendary Italian singer Lucio Dalli, rather than a classic biographical documentary. Obviously, the author’s great respect for this Bologna-born singer-songwriter in 1943 (died 2012), a marginal, and in “For Lucio”, Marcello seems to be trying to figure out who this great Italian singer, working class hero and what shaped him was. . We are mostly guided through Dala’s story by his long-time manager and friend Umberto Righi, and it is not a classic factual biography, but relies more on numerous unrelated anecdotes.

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We meet the protagonist of the film in a slightly impressionistic style through the memories of his manager and childhood friend Stefan Bonaga as they sit at the table, eat pasta, sip wine and remember Dalle. An artist who, as one of them points out, was betrayed by puberty, so he grew into a short, stocky hairy and physically inconspicuous guy, which didn’t help him much while he was breaking through in the sixties and seventies. However, Dalla was not a typical Italian chancellor who focused exclusively on romantic themes in his songs, but he was a politically engaged musician who conveyed in his songs what he experienced, what shaped him and often commented on current socio-political situation.

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In parallel with fragments from Dala’s life, through archival recordings we mostly follow recordings of Italy from the 1920s, 1930s and onwards. And through these recordings we see one country and one society that has completely changed over the years from a rural to an industrial society, and this is a common theme in Dalla’s songs as well. In the beginning, he found the perfect lyricist in the poet and intellectual Robert Roversi, who managed to convey his views on the world and society, and later he wrote the lyrics for his poems. Interestingly, his probably most famous song “Caruso” from 1986, dedicated to the famous tenor Enrico Caruso, is not mentioned at all, and just as is often the case, this often belittled, underestimated and marginalized musician was not fully recognized until his death.

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