Tonino Guerra: 1920-2012

"Death isn't that boring. After all, it comes only once." (Tonino Guerra)

His name, having been a regular fixture in the rolling credits of Italian movies for the past 60 years, may be familiar even to the occasional moviegoer. Tonino Guerra, poet and screenwriter, died yesterday in his native Sant'Arcangelo di Romagna as the country was about to celebrate the National Day of Poetry. Born in 1920, he died on the first day of spring after having recently moved back to his birthplace.

Tonino Guerra was born to a family of illiterate peasants; he has always thanked his mother, to whom he had taught how to write, for the education he received. In 1943, while working as a primary school teacher, he was deported to Germany in a concentration camp in Troisdorf. There, fellow prisoners from the same region of Italy asked him every night to recite dialectal verses, which he soon after started composing. After the war, in the early 1950s Guerra moved to Rome where he started working as a screenwriter without interrupting his poetic activities. There he met Michelangelo Antonioni with whom he worked on L'Avventura giving birth to a professional and human partnership that saw him working with the director of Blow Up on all his films (with the exception for The Passenger). In films such as La Notte and L'Eclisse as well as the aforementioned L'Avventura the duo explored with an elegant yet pitiless look the inner corrosion of bourgeois values, their fetishist persistence, convincingly framing the elusive essence of impending social diseases. The sense of decline and dilated estrangement the films captured was doubtlessly due to Antonioni's aesthetic awareness but it was Guerra who wrote these rarefied stories of sentimental immobility and detachment.

While steering through the existential aridity marking the affluence of the "economic miracle" Italian style, he continued writing in his dialect delivering vernacular poetry from its parochial burden. With Amarcord (Oscar for Best Foreign Film and Original Screenplay in 1975) Guerra embarked on a very personal journey into memory and the oneiric geographies of his and Fellini's native region, Romagna. Testament to their artistic affinity, the film is an immaculate rendition of childhood memories and impressionistic visions told in the mellifluous parlance both director and screenwriter shared. Equally brilliant when screenwriting social commentary for Francesco Rosi, science fiction in The 10th Victim for Elio Petri or tales of resistance for the Taviani Brothers, Guerra often worked abroad. He worked with Theo Angelopolous (assiduously), Andrey Tarkovskiy, Wim Wenders, taught screenwriting at the university of Moscow and continued writing and publishing his poems.

"It is not always true that one plus one equals zero. A drop plus another drop of water, makes one big drop of water," he once remarked; his pen may have run out of ink, but the worlds he created will always be there.

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Marching against climate change in the age of Donald Trump

The People’s Climate Movement is as much about politics as science. That's its strength.

Saying goodbye is never easy. But the present generation are facing an awful lot of farewells: to the melting arctic, the dying Barrier Reef, and the general resilience of ecosystems around the world. As Margaret Atwood described it in her essay of the same name: “It’s not climate change, it’s everything change”.

The problem with “everything-change” is that it can be overwhelming. How do you even decide where to start?

The People’s Climate Movement want to begin by making visible the extent of concern out there. This weekend, a coalition of organisations have planned a protest march on the American capital. Between 50,000 -100,000 people are expected to attend, including eco-celebrities Leonardo Di Caprio, Al Gore and Richard Branson.

In London, a group called Campaign Against Climate Change, are co-ordinating a UK-based solidarity event. Protestors will meet at 11.30am in Old Palace yard opposite Parliament, then move to Westminster Bridge, where they will spell out a message to Theresa May: “Trump and May: Climate Disaster”.

For UK campaigners, this is a vital opportunity to raise awareness of the many ways in which action on climate change is under threat. Claire James from CACC outlines the sense of frustration and injustice that many feel with regard to recent government policy: “There have been 12,000 jobs lost last year in the solar industry alone and installation numbers have plummeted. Meanwhile fracking, hugely unpopular, is given determined backing.”

Ahead of the June election, campaigners are using the event to call for specific, cross-party commitments. One, fast-tracking the UK’s delayed Climate Change Plan. Two, ruling out new trade deals that compromise environmental, worker or consumer rights. And three, implementing a fair deal for UK solar and wind industry. “Our action on Saturday is about saying to the government – and to anyone who wants to form the next government – do your policies measure up?” says James.

These concrete political aims are an important way in which the movement differs from last weekend’s March For Science. That protest, inspired by the popularity of the Women’s March earlier this year, kept its message intentionally wide. As one of the London event’s organisers told DeSmog, it placed its emphasis on a generalised “celebration of science”. But this lack of specificity drew criticism from some quarters – for presenting a confusing message about politics' relationship to science.

Generalisation can also risk putting people off joining marches at all. Over the last few months, numerous friends have said they feel uncomfortable joining protests where they’re not sure that the person marching next to them is doing so for the same reasons. They’d feel much happier signing a petition, with a more specific and limited aim, they tell me.

This weekend’s climate marches risk drawing some of the same concerns. “Climate-change has become a synecdoche, a surrogate, for many causes in today’s world – social justice, the protection of nature, the rights of future generations, the defence of science,” says Professor Mike Hulme from King's College London. “Marches such as this give political voice to anti-establishment protest, but they don’t stop the climate changing.”

In addition, not all who want to see climate change prioritised by governments may agree over the exact course of action – with outright opposition to fracking, for instance, or to a third runway at Heathrow.

But this weekend’s movement also appears to have taken these lessons on board. First, they are putting their political aims up front. According the US event’s website, whereas the March for Science strove to be non-political, this movement “believes strongly in the need to call out the politicians.”

The link to the Paris Climate Treaty is helpful in this respect. The People’s Climate Movement traces its birth back to September 21 2014, the eve of the UN climate summit, when 400,000 people marched through New York demanding action on the climate crisis. This gives the movement a clear piece of legislation to both celebrate and defend.

And the London-based event is also attempting to re-think and expand what street-protests can achieve. “We’re doing a smaller action rather than a big march,” explains Claire James, “but we’re trying to have a real focus with the speakers on ‘what next’”. After the protest in Westminster, attendees are invited to join an afternoon of free food, activities and music, hosted by the food waste campaign Feedback. Here there will be even further opportunity to learn about the many ways – from divestment campaigns to local renewable energy groups – in which people can help press for change.

In this respect, public action against the climate crisis promises not to end when the walking does. And while protests won't stop climate change in themselves, joining a march can be a powerful reminder that we are not in this crisis alone.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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