The documentary film I Cavalieri della Laguna (The Knights of the Lagoon), about a community of fishermen in Orbetello (Slow Food Presidium), Tuscany, will be presented at the 64th Berlinale.
The jury of the celebrated film festival has chosen to include Tuscan director Walter Bencini's film in the "Culinary Cinema" section, defining it a concrete example of how to promote a place and its traditions, way of life and quality products through audiovisual communication. Thanks to Bencini's skilled direction, the film offers a journey through the lives and work of the members of a cooperative of fishermen in Orbetello. It explores an economy based on traditional fishing systems, and at the same time a philosophy of food production concerned with quality and social justice.
The cooperative currently unites about 60 fishermen, and includes a processing workshop, a shop and a fish market. The fishermen breed bass and bream fry to repopulate the lagoon and produce bottarga and smoked mullet and eel. In the evening, they run a small restaurant looking out over the lagoon, where they serve the day's catch prepared in traditional Orbetello style. "Heroes suspended between the destiny of a disappearing world and the romantic, stubborn desire not to give up" is how Bencini describes them, compelled "to keep alive their story, which, for many of them, is also the story of their families, of their fathers and grandfathers."
The film is about these fishermen, but also an issue at the heart of Slow Food: the logic of small local businesses, seemingly anachronistic and unsustainable in a global economy based on big numbers, but often the only way for traditions, jobs and an environmentally friendly way of life to survive.
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