Yesterday, I turned on my local PBS station and caught the last half hour of “The Venetian Dilemma: City or Theme Park,” a documentary produced by New Yorkers, and part-time Venetians, Carole and Richard Rifkind. Instead of focusing on the “sinking” Venice, this documentary looks at the impact of tourists and the shrinking population of Venetians.
The producers’ website (www.parnassusworks.org/synopsis.htm) says: “In magical, mystical, marvelous Venice a plummeting population of locals is drowning in an annual flood of visitors that now tops 14 million. Roberto, a savvy politician, is promoting a broad array of public works in a desperate attempt to modernize and thus revitalize this ancient city. Against a stunning backdrop of fabled canals, fairy tale bridges, and splendid monuments, the soul of the city is revealed by three who are battling City Hall: Paolo, an environmentalist, opposes the speeding tourist-serving motor boats that destroy the city's very foundations; Danilo, a fruit and vegetable vendor, wages a lonely battle to save his kiosk from condemnation; and feisty Michela, a career woman and mother, presses the city to help the young families who provide the last best hope of saving the city as something more than a Disneyland. A provocative debut film by Richard and Carole Rifkind, it is a fascinating portrait of a society in crisis.”