Narratives of change, images for change: Contemporary social documentaries in Italy | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2047-7368
  • E-ISSN: 2047-7376



This article focuses on contemporary documentaries about social change in Italy. In particular, I examine the Rome-based ZaLab initiative, an association of media professionals and activists whose video work aims at narrating the stories of marginal social actors. This analysis reflects on the role of ZaLab in current visions of migration in/to Italy, focusing specifically on three documentaries produced by ZaLab: Come un uomo sulla terra/Like a Man on Earth (Segre and Yimer, 2008), Il sangue verde/Green Blood (Segre, 2010) and Mare chiuso/Closed Sea (Liberti and Segre, 2012). Based on a careful film analysis and a series of conversations with the directors, Andrea Segre and Stefano Liberti, I discuss the composition and film-making strategies in these documentaries and assess the significance of such choices in the context of Italian documentary production. The analysis of the documentaries is followed by an investigation of the horizontal practices of communication (both in the production and distribution stages) embraced by ZaLab and their innovative approach to the changes in Italian contemporary communities. Clearly, the notion of citizenship presented in these videos defies the flattening, pejorative images found in mainstream programming and acknowledges the central role played by those social actors who are often silenced or marginalized in the audience-seeking productions of television channels.


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