At a time when the subject of immigration is at the forefront of the national debate, this new documentary by East London-based director Luca Vullo couldn’t be more vital as an exposé of the individual characters behind the statistics. Moreover, more than an hour spent listening to such a beautiful language as Italian is rarely time wasted.
Rather than forcing an opinion on the viewer and delving into the ugliness of politics, Influx lets the people do the talking. From pensioners, young people, business executives to those on the street, a broad range of talking heads offer their personal perspectives.
They relate both the boons and foibles of the Italian people – one of London’s largest demographics – and deliver a wonderfully even-handed end product.
Many Mediterranean countries are in the stranglehold of economic turmoil and stratospheric youth unemployment. As more and more people leave Italy in search of a better life, Vullo’s documentary focuses chiefly on two poignant issues – the existential anxiety of seeing one’s country fail its young people and lose its best and brightest in an increasingly globalised world; and the tribulations of those who venture from their homeland to a strange new city.
We are privy to the emotional challenges faced by Italians of all ages and backgrounds, whether it be coping with excessive bureaucracy, surviving the feelings of isolation and anxiety, or learning the mores of a more germanic, punctilious nation than theirs.
Nearly all interviewees miss their mother country, and deplore the conditions which have lead to their exodus. But as one says, if Italy is the mother country then Britain is the adoptive mother, and the dynamism, tolerance and opportunities to be found in the UK are roundly praised.
The suggestion is that where Italy’s “Byzantine” bureaucracy and stagnant economy fail the ambitious and the inspired, London succeeds in fostering their talents. And as Italian entrepreneurs, chefs, artists, politicians and charity workers participate in our society, clearly it is only their nation’s loss.
Most importantly, Vullo’s documentary relates the sense of identity, hopes and fears, and aspirations of people from one of the world’s ancient and rich cultures in the modern world, and displays superbly our shared experience in the global city of London.