Tuesday, 12 October 2021 11:20

The diplomacy of comics: ambassador Andrea Silvestri talks about graphic novels and power at the Giffoni Macedonia Youth Film Festival

The event is co-financed by the Italian Ministry of Culture – Directorate-General for Cinema and by the North Macedonian Ministry of Culture and National Film Agency

Superheroes and comics as an instrument of political power: this is the approach that Italian Ambassador in Skopje Andrea Silvestri used to talk about his passions to the jurors of the Giffoni Macedonia Youth Film Festival.
“Like any typical Pop Art manifestation, comics are a mirror of the society and political context in which they are produced” the ambassador explained. “Over the years, comics have proven to be suitable to also express a geopolitical message, one that is related to how we look at ourselves and others. For this reason, comics have been used throughout history as propaganda tools by both governments and opposition movements, contributing to the affirmation of the prevailing ideology.  Moreover, they can also convey values and images of their country of origin, thus representing a form of soft power just like Hollywood movie industry”.
His passion is so strong that it has become a very original essay published in 2020 by Edizioni NPE and entitled “Fumetti e Potere - Eroi e supereroi come strumento geopolitico” (“Comics and Power - Heroes and Superheroes as a geopolitical instrument”), in which Silvestri combines his diplomatic knowledge and sensitivity with his love for graphic novels.
“I have analyzed the way comics have been used for political propaganda, with examples from all over the world”, he continued. “Our experience as readers shows that many instances of propaganda were blatant, such as Captain America, created in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (although the character’s evolution has actually diverged from the initial version). This essay focuses on the main comics industries and their mainstream and serial products, paying attention to the global phenomenon of graphic novels, which offers interesting cognitive insights into other countries and realities. The book thus offers a proper journey among superheroes and anti-heroes, from Asterix and Tintin to the Avengers and Superman, from Astro boy and Goku to Tex, Dylan Dog and the new “Italian” characters, in order to explore the ninth art in terms of geopolitical analysis”.
Andrea Silvestri has been dealing with European affairs for a long time, having worked at the Permanent Representation to the EU and in the Directorate-General for European Integration. He previously worked at the Directorate-General for Personnel, the Consulate-General in Paris, the Embassy in Abidjan and the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation.
Another interesting masterclass was the one held by Rosario Minervini from the Giffoni management team on the “difficult art of selecting film productions for young audiences”.
“The jurors proved to be interested and knowledgeable”, Minervini said. “Throughout the entire meeting we sensed a hunger for listening and knowledge, which was accompanied by a free and continuous exchange of ideas. I was pleasantly impressed by the young people’s interest in the selection process and their desire to better understand it. Giffoni Macedonia has been one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had”.

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