Jonathan Nossiter follows up his hit 2004 documentary Mondovino with this profile of four radical vineyard proprietors in Italy, who are striving to produce all-natural wines in the face of market and governmental pressure.
In Natural Resistance, director Jonathan Nossiter combines his love for wine, cinema and Italy. A former sommelier, Nossiter previously made Mondovino, documenting how globalizing trends threaten to drive out distinctive wines. He didn't foresee returning to the topic until last summer when he found himself in Tuscany, seated with Italian winemakers dedicated to resisting the prevalent use of chemicals. Joining them was Gian Luca Farinelli, a crusader for film preservation and the director of Cineteca di Bologna. Their conversation, in Nossiter's words, was "joyously anarchic and personal" — one might say: Italian — drawing connections between film culture and agriculture. Nossiter instinctively turned on his camera and continued to follow these subjects against the sun-kissed backdrop of Italian vineyards.
What does it mean to take an artisanal approach? Nossiter looks for answers by visiting four radical proprietors of vineyards who aren't afraid to speak passionately, or get their hands dirty, when it comes to putting environmental ideals into practice. They have plenty to resist, including the Italian government's official DOC label that tends to reject natural wines while approving chemically grown vintages.
Exemplifying a more utopian outlook, one winemaker says, "It's about respect for everything" — not only nature, but also workers and customers. Nossiter interweaves a complementary thread of discussion with the Cineteca director Farinelli, who struggles against the erasure of film history. The theme of resistance is evoked further though clips from the films of Chaplin, Pasolini, Rossellini, Bresson, and others, which Nossiter playfully intersperses throughout.
This artful dialogue between the worlds of film and wine make for a delicious pairing.