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Viva Zapatero! review

While the title pays tribute to the leftwing Spanish PM, this documentary illuminates worrying censorship in writer-director Sabina Guzzanti’s Italian homeland. In 2003, she made a satirical series for state broadcaster RAI, yet despite good ratings, it was dropped after one episode when RAI’s rival Mediaset, owned by Silvio Berlusconi, sued for €20 million in damages. Though the case was dismissed, the remaining shows were never broadcast.

More pleasing to the eye than Michael Moore, Guzzanti is a spirited guide, whether transforming herself into a Berlusconi lookalike or interviewing the politicians who failed to defend RAI’s independence. Sharing experiences with satirists in other European democracies (including Rory Bremner), she persuasively makes the case that political satire isn’t an optional extra in a healthy democracy, but a necessity.

 

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