The director of the controversial but highly acclaimed documentary Mondovino is back with a new film, celebrating natural wine producers in Italy.
Jonathan Nossiter's “Natural Resistance,” premiering at this week’s Berlin Film Festival, follows four winemakers in Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont.
While “Natural Resistance” is about wine, it is not intended to be a sequel to “Mondovino,” according to Nossiter. However, it’s likely to ruffle a few feathers. Not only does it extol the virtues of so-called "natural wine" – a term that has no agreed definition – it attacks the country’s quality system, the denominazione di origine controllata (DOC), as well as conventional grape growing methods.
“Natural Resistance” is “the most joyful and optimistic film I have ever made," said Nossiter. But the introduction to the 86-minute documentary, published in the Berlin Film Festival brochure, will displease many Italian wine producers within the country’s DOC system: “What looks like a bucolic paradise, where intelligent people produce wine according to time-honored and organic methods, is actually revealed to be a battleground. The DOC association, which is supposed to look after the interests of independent vintners, promotes winemakers who produce vast amounts in a standardized quality; and the agricultural industry with its hygiene regulations excludes traditional methods of production.”
It adds: “The only thing saving the landscape from being totally destroyed is affluent foreigners using the old vineyards as summer holiday homes.”
In an interview with Nossiter at the festival, he discussed the stars of the film: Giovanna Tiezzi of Pacina estate in Tuscany, Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa in Emilia Romagna and Stefano Bellotti, owner and winemaker of Piedmont's Cascina degli Ulivi. “These people are pacifist rebels, who have been able to offer positive role models, who have thought about how to rethink the world, how to operate a moral resistance to a system that no longer works, finding a way to survive, to live,” he said.
Bellotti has produced natural wines for 25 years. “He is someone who is not afraid of anyone, who speaks freely and every thought has an ethical and political sense,” said Nossiter.
Natural wine producers, according to Nossiter, “are a model of ethical, political and human success” and a message of hope.
“Neither one is like the other, their wines are not alike, but they have found common ground. Their common value is: freedom for oneself and respect for others,” he added.