Mister Universo

Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel Austria, Italy 2016, 90 min

Directors Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel have dedicated their latest film to “everyone who has lost his job owing to the digitisation of cinema.” This has nothing – and also everything – to do with the film’s story, which is about dissatisfied lion tamer Tairo who takes the loss of his talisman – a horseshoe – as a reason to set off on a journey through a drab, grey Italy. Here too, we see how ‘progress’ is having devastating consequences all over.

Tairo is caught up in an economic system that is pushing him to the margins. Superstition gives him hope of escaping this. He travels a rainy Italy looking for Arthur Robin, the former Mister Universe who once formed the horseshoe he has lost. Along the way, he meets old friends and members of his family, who show us a cross-section of a subculture surviving on the cusp of poverty. The result is a highly humane portrait of the circus life Covi and Frimmel have been involved with in the past, with real circus artists playing fictionalised versions of themselves.

This film and Q&A was aired on Friday 27 January

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