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01 July1933
Nicolò La Colla
Music & mix audio by Pasquale Savignano | Biennio di Sound Design del Conservatorio di Musica di Bologna

First of July 1933, Orbetello's Idroscalo. Under the eye of Nicolò La Colla's 8mm camera, of the newsreel cameras from all over the world, who had come here for the occasion, preparations were in full swing for a great media event: the departure of Italo Balbo with his fleet of seaplanes to North America for the Atlantic flight, the ten-year cruise that would celebrate, somewhat belatedly, Fascism's seizure of power and mark another stage in the establishment of the Regime. The point of view of La Colla's camera, compared to the others, is the opposite: the backstage of the great event is documented, but also in the counter-field of the salient moments: Balbo's speech, which will be broadcast on the radio, and the departure of the seaplanes. In this excerpt we stop before the departure, filmed confusingly from afar (but for La Colla, not being able to compete with professional means, it is more important to be there and to witness). We dwell on the great man's moments of pause. These are ideal for the small 8mm camera, which can capture moments in which Balbo appears much more of a star than he was filmed in the ranks and in his official posture. This is where the real Balbo comes out, the icon so often portrayed with a cigarette, this could be the secret of his success, and the dream he is dreaming of: to be a Hollywood actor. And in fact he will be triumphantly welcomed in the United States, by giant processions in the streets of Chicago - and even on Balbo Avenue dedicated to him - and New York, he will be awarded by Roosevelt himself for his aeronautical feat and recognised by all as the new Christopher Columbus. So successful that he aroused the envy of Mussolini himself, alarmed by the one figure who could overshadow him? On his return to his homeland, Balbo, by now a popular hero, was stripped of control of the air force and given the governorship of Libya. Tripoli is not America, it is Africa, and it borders the desert. Years later, in 1940, Balbo would be shot down by 'friendly fire', just days before Italy's entry into the war. It was an accident that killed him, and there is no evidence to the contrary. However, it is said that at the behest of Mussolini himself, the seaplanes of the flight, twenty-four Savoia Marchetti, would be dismantled shortly after the feat. Ungrateful Duce.