Italy / 91’
screenplay Giovanni Totaro
cinematographer Paolo Ferrari (AIC Imago)
editor Andrea Maguolo
music Giordano Corapi
sound Adriano Alampi
Every summer on Mondello Beach in Palermo, more than a thousand cabins are erected to house the same number of groups of bathers who will spend the season in them. For these people the “huts” are the perfect setting in which to hide behind the memory of a social status that the crisis of recent years has undermined. A family gets into debt to go on a seaside vacation and to look well-off among the bathers, three women sunbathe in order to feel as if they are still young and to become the stars of the summer, while on the same beach a barman thinks about earning as much money as possible to get through the winter. Everyone is waiting for the night of August 15 to play a leading role in the summer Vanity Fair and to keep on pretending that the economic crisis doesn’t exist.
The possession of a seaside bathing hut represents an illusion of affluence distant from everyday life, which is slowly stripping the middle class of the gains it has made. Happy Winter sets out to convey this sense of community with its natural contradictions, stemming from a holiday with condominial, at times tribal aspects, remote from the clichés of a vacation by the sea. In this summer holiday village seen as a metaphor for Italy, the economic worries tackled under the beach umbrella find a response in the cultural crisis of Italians. In the film the enjoyable and carefree aspect of the beach is tainted by a bitterness that is always present in the stories, a sort of unpaid bill that connects the protagonists with their return to “normality”. This microcosm enclosed in a glass bead has a precise end: on September 15 the bathers empty their huts, wishing each other a Happy Winter.