Every summer on Palermo’s Mondello beach over one thousand cabins are built ready to host as many families who will spend the holidays there. For them the beach huts are a perfect scenario for hiding behind the memory of a social status the crisis of recent years has inevitably compromised.
A family goes into debt so they can take their seaside holidays and appear wealthy in the eyes of the other beach-goers; three women work on their suntans so they can carry on feeling young and become the stars of the summer. On the same beach, in the meantime, a barman thinks about nothing
but making as much money as possible to get through the winter. All of them are looking forward to the ferragosto, the Italian public holiday of August 15 on occasion of the Assumption of Mary, to be at the centre of the summer vanity fair and continue pretending the economic crisis doesn’t exist.
Sea cabins seen as a fortress to secure the middle class with their achieved status, safe from the risk to appear inadequated, unable to face the new, overtook, or, in the worst case, old.
Happy Winter is a documentary intended for the cinema that reflects about the last years economic crisis and about the way the middle class is facing it.
Mondello’s carefree holiday atmosphere represents a suspension from the toils of the winter and this condition is an opportunity for me to face the subject with an ironic, fizzy and at times comical approach, but never superficially, thanks to the various interpretative levels the characters present. They have quite literally lost their shirts and lay bare their socio-existential condition, which isn’t too different from that of someone from Spain, Greece, France or North America.
Happy Winter is the début film by Giovanni Totaro, graduated at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia of Palermo. From a cinematic point of view a register consisting of static shots, combining formal accuracy and continuously new narrative contents, will alternate with freer more visual moments associated to the sea, with camera movements and shots not always perfectly in focus representing the sea as the territory of fantasy and dreams, the element the characters retreat to from time to time.