Italian Minister of Health, Beatrice Lorenzin, is offering new legislation to ban cigarettes in national TV and film productions, leading 20 of country’s top film virtuosos to express outrage at the proposal.
In a letter, directors Saverio Costanzo, Mario Martone, Gabriele Muccino, Gabriele Salvatores, Paolo Sorrentino, and Paolo Virzi describe Lorenzin’s proposal as an attempt to control artistic expression.
“It is in the human nature to be imperfect,” the group says. “And there is an endless list of masterpieces, in literature and cinema that has perfectly portrayed the life of people. Following the logic behind this law proposal, a lot of other elements of these works would have been banned or limited.”
“Cinema, literature, and the artistic expression in general doesn’t need to follow any specific direction. You don’t ask celery from a butcher,” they continued. “He will send you to the produce shop.”
The camp also feels film should “tell about joy, pain, greatness but also about smallness and the magic of the human being. And if to do that at our best would be necessary to fill the screen with clouds of smoke, or with other things much more unseemly, we will continue to do so, because this is our job.”
They went on to cite a “horrible tradition,” in which the “system rules on the private behavior of the human being, treating them not as citizens but as children to be protected and guided.”
“Please, behave well and do your job, while we will do the best to do ours.” they finished, addressing Minister Lorenzin directly.
The letter also noted the timing of the motion, in which freedom of expression has been challenged in Europe. Likely a reference to Parisian satire publication Charlie Hebdo, which drew the ire of Islamist gunmen after it criticized the Prophet Muhammed.
The proposed law would also prohibit smoking in public places like beaches, parks and stadiums, and cars occupied by children.