Italian Dinner and Film:
The Great European Disaster Movie
Location: Osteria d’Assisi, 58 South Federal Place
Cost: $50 includes dinner (provided by Osteria d’Assisi) and film: The Great European Disaster Movie (2015, 87 minutes)
Happy Hour/Cash Bar: 5:00 p.m. Dinner served: 5:30 p.m. Movie Begins: 6:30 p.m. (Film is 87 minutes.) Post-screening discussion led by CIR facilitator extraordinaire Rob Reider
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED – Please reserve by Friday, May 5
In keeping with the Great Decisions spotlight on the European Union, CIR presents an evening of Italian cuisine accompanied by the film: The Great European Disaster Movie. The Honorary Consul of Italy in Santa Fe happens to be one of Santa Fe’s most beloved chefs, Lino Pertusini of Osteria d’Assisi, who is also our host for the evening. Come join us for a delicious Italian meal and an intriguing imaginary trip to the Europe of the future, where we will be asked to reflect upon the potential consequences of the demise of the European Union.
THE GREAT EUROPEAN DISASTER MOVIE
The Great European Disaster takes us on two parallels, the present and the future. Up above, we see a plane making its journey in a Europe of the future. On board, an archaeologist (Angus Deayton) talks with his fellow passenger, played by Flavia Piras Trow. He’s going to deliver a talk on a historic artefact. The artefact? The European Union. Our archaeologist talks wistfully about the European Union and what it stood for, and how it drifted into disaster.
35,000 ft, sometime in the not-so-distant future 8 year old Jane Monnetti sits aboard an airplane which is flying through a menacing storm, heading for Berlin. But all is not well at ground-level. The European Union has collapsed, and countries that had collaborated happily at the beginning of the 21st Century are regressing into the fractious collection of competing nation-states that existed before the EU’s formation. Scared by the turbulence, Jane strikes-up a conversation with an English archaeologist sitting next to her. He is about to give a lecture on the EU, an entity she had never heard of. In his suitcase he has 5 artifacts which evoke 5 lost European values. To distract Jane from the increasingly menacing storm he tells her 5 stories about what the EU was, why things went so wrong, and what has been lost since its collapse.
For each story, we rewind to 2014 and examine the identity crisis of current-day Europe and the complex challenges that are mounting against the Union’s survival. Beset by growing nationalism, seven years of economic crisis and an increasing dissatisfaction with its undemocratic political structure will Europe sleepwalk into catastrophe as it did one hundred years ago? The film constructs an epic picture of a Europe that is worth fighting for, but which, if things carry on as they are, looks destined for disintegration. Through 5 different European stories, in Britain, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Croatia the film creates a unique, choral portrait of the “European dream” and how it could be lost forever. The positive achievements of a Union that has created prosperity, stability and the most advanced welfare states in the world, while preventing major wars on the continent, come to life and underpin the case for urgent major EU reform. Subtle, moving, thought-provoking and witty, the film is far more than a political film but instead frames Europe through the eyes of those who are most important to its success: the Europeans themselves.
In this future, nationalism has taken hold, the EU has broken up. Nigel Farage is Prime Minister of Great England. Marine le Pen is the President of France. While they talk, we learn that the plane is on a journey with no certain destination. Germany, is battling an energy crisis alone and suddenly can’t accept passengers. The plane hunts for a new airport but struggles to be accepted by neighboring countries. It signals a return to a pre-Schengen Europe, where passengers must pass strict criteria in order to be let into their destination country.
The idea was part of a nightmare set in the future that people could relate to. It’s been a fact that people have been enjoying freedom of movement in the EU for 20 years. But what if this were taken away? This is something that the younger generation has grown accustomed to but is by no means a given. We hear from the anti-European movement how better off we could be without Europe, but no one really makes a case of what are the things we could lose. The idea is that we could take our minds and stretch them to imagine a future in 20 years. In the present, we hear about the current crisis from commentators as well as stories of ordinary citizens from across Europe. In Barcelona we follow the stories of people feeling the pain of austerity. In the UK we meet a councillor campaigning for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). In Croatia, a photographer talks about nationalism and the conflict in the Balkans two decades ago. Each character paints a picture within the context of the EU crisis of today.
The film has not been without criticism from Eurosceptics. UKIP hailed it as pro-EU propaganda. An article in The Daily Telegraph accused it of scaremongering. But it is a critical portrait. If it’s in favor of the union, then it agrees that major change is needed. There’s analysis of what needs to be reformed in the EU.
Contributors from both inside and outside Brussels talk about issues such as the handling of the banking crisis and a lack of accountability and transparency. A recurring theme is the disconnect between Brussels and Europe’s citizens. Equally there is also a reminder of successes since its post war beginnings, and an analysis of how we could solve the current crisis. And the fiction is accompanied by facts and figures which help to dispel a few myths along the way. For example, on the hot topic of immigration another dimension is added by the statistic that approximately 2.3 million EU citizens live in the UK, in ten years, paying 20 billion more in taxes than they’ve taken in welfare. The timing of the movie’s release is important. Nationalist political parties featured such as Spain’s Podemos and Syriza in Greece have continued to gain in strength. Greece’s economic and political future continues to hang in the balance. And since the film’s release, the UK has passed a referendum to dissolve its membership in the EU.
“Nothing is more satisfying to me than passing on an amazing dining experience to customers, new and old. It all starts with a warm greeting and an invitation to enjoy an amazing meal. Gracious service mixed with great food creates an opportunity to thrill and make for an unforgettable occasion for my customers.” – Lino Pertusini