The Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA) is the ring road that surrounds Rome. Along this great ribbon of concrete documentarian Gianfranco Rosi has found a wild mix of people whose lives he’s committed to the camera, creating a portrait of the early 21st century in all its sacredness and profanity. Among the people we meet are an amateur scientist who records the sounds of palm tree-destroying bugs, a pair of bitchy old prostitutes living in a mobile home, various dwellers in a public high-rise apartment building, a rustic eel fisherman who is fully aware of how global capitalism is affecting his livelihood, and most importantly, an ambulance driver who deals with life and death, through snow and through fog, by night and by day, along this sacred road. In a similar vein to Errol Morris’ Vernon, Florida, Rosi gives plenty of leeway to the eccentric lives along the GRA, but he also gives them plenty of screen time allowing for a great empathy for these resilient hangers-on in the twilight glow of late capitalism.
Originally published in EL Magazine, August 2014