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The village of the ugly

September 26, 2023

"Ugliness is a virtue, beauty is slavery.” This motto is a rallying cry for the people of Piobbico. The picturesque village in central Italy, home to 2,000 residents, is on a mission to challenge beauty standards.


Every year in September, Giannino Aluigi ramps up his campaigning efforts. After all, the president of the "Club dei Brutti” ("Ugly Club") has a reputation to uphold. Founded more than 100 years ago, the association now has some 32,000 members from around the world. Some of them travel to Piobbico every year for the "Festival of the Ugly" - complete with colorful parades, singing, dancing, and feasts. The undisputed highlight of the event is the contest to crown the ugliest man in Italy. The voting is a lighthearted affair - after all, the point is that nobody should feel discouraged for not meeting the absurdly high and narrowly defined beauty standards of mainstream society. This film unravels a wonderfully quirky story which flits between playful and serious. We also meet "Poldo" Isabettini - left physically and emotionally scarred by a road accident. Poldo is proud to be "Italy's Ugliest Man" and is defending his title in Piobbico. Beyond his sporting ambition, winning the title is a life-affirming tradition.

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Close up — The Current Affairs Documentary

Our weekly half-hour program delivers in-depth reporting on topical political issues and newsworthy events. Revealing the story behind the stories, Close Up is informative, gripping and visually powerful.