The show MAS go on

Film on Rome's MAS clothing store shows at Venice Film Festival

A short film dedicated to the historic clothing outlet Magazzini Allo Statuto, better known in Rome as MAS, was premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 2 September.

Entitled The show MAS go on, the 32-minute movie was directed by Rä di Martino who was appalled when he heard the store might really close last year, for the umpteenth time. However the shop which is as famous for its frequent "closing down forever" sales as it is for its kitsch clothing, remained open in the end, to nobody's surprise.

The film is a cross between documentary and surreal fantasy and production took six weeks, according to its Rome director. The movie's blurb explains the circumstances in which it was filmed: "The idea of the video-documentary was born one night when passing in front of MAS our reaction to the closure was unanimous. Impossible! So three friends, a video artist, an assistant director and an agent, decided to start filming immediately to capture this place/non-place, transformed for the occasion into a stage.”

Located on Via dello Statuto in the Esquilino area of the city, between Piazza Vittorio and Via Merulana, the neon-lit warehouse has sold an enormous array of cut-price clothing, shoes, jewellery, wigs, sports gear, retro fashions, linen and luggage for over a century. The spawling four-storey outlet is something of an institution in Rome and caters for about as wide a range of customers as possible, from students and ethnic communities to people going camping or in search of offbeat fancy-dress costumes.

It is the second year in a row that a quirky film about Rome has been screened at the prestigious Venice Film Festival which is celebrating its 71st anniversary. Gianfranco Rosi's documentary film Sacro GRA, which chronicles life along the Grande Raccordo Anulare ringroad that circles Rome, won the Golden Lion for best film at Venice last year.