361. An Oscar for Mr. Rossi – Bruno Bozzetto

song-of-the-prairie

SUMMARY: Mr. Rossi buys a film camera in an attempt to make a masterpiece and win an Oscar.

WHY IT’S HERE: Italian director Bruno Bozzetto’s most famous creation was Mr. Rossi, a small, unlucky everyman character who first appeared in a series of seven shorts between 1960 and 1974. Rossi became more popular over the years due to his subsequent trio of feature films which were often shown chopped up into TV episodes but while these more child-friendly features were entertaining, the original 10 minute Rossi shorts have a satirical bite and a progressively darker tone that makes them more fascinating. The first of the Rossi shorts, ‘An Oscar for Mr. Rossi’ is a lighter satire on filmmaking and the only short in which Rossi is depicted as having a wife. It sees Mr. Rossi taking up amateur filmmaking in an attempt to receive critical acclaim. The process of making a film is enjoyably deconstructed in a series of scenes but the big laugh comes at the end, in which Rossi exhibits his film and is thrown out of the festival. In a frustrated rage, he sabotages his own film reels, at which point the mangled film is accepted and acclaimed as an art-house triumph. With the fashion in animation turning towards the abstract, ‘An Oscar for Mr. Rossi’ was one of the earliest satires on the emptiness of some of the lesser art films doing the rounds. It beat Mel Brooks’s similarly themed Oscar-winner ‘The Critic’ to the screen by three years.

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