Italian filmmaker Salvatore Allocca was recently in India to attend the 2nd Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF), where his second feature film,
was screened in the World Cinema section. Allocca’s short film
had won the Best Director and Best Cinematography awards in the “MigrArti” section at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival, back in September. Interestingly, both these films revolve around the issue of immigration. While
on the Road focuses on the struggles of two Tunisian refugees who swim across the Mediterranean to Italy seeking asylum,
tells the story of a 14-year-old daughter of an immigrant family from Senegal living in Italy.
In this interview, Allocca talks about the response that his film on the Road got at the GIFF, his Indian connection, and his approach to filmmaking.
Q. Your short film
won two awards at the 75th Venice International Film Festival competing in the “MigrArti” section. What kind of cinema does this section consider? A.
won the awards for the best director and the best cinematographer. The Venice International Film Festival’s MigrArti section, in which the film won, is an initiative by the Italian government to finance cinema and entertainment projects dedicated to the different cultures present in Italy today, in particular the second-generation youngsters from immigrant communities settled in Italy.
Q. The issue of migration is a central theme of your works. What makes you feel so strongly about it? A.
In Italy we have a lot of refugees from countries facing war or war-like situations. Also, a lot of people come from Africa, searching for work, in the hope of a better life, better future. You see, Italy is in the middle of Mediterranean Sea and so it is often not the final desination for the refugees who pass though it in order to reach other European countries. But since other borders have now been locked, they are forced to stay back in Italy. Ever since the time of the Arab Spring, the issue of immigrants has grown in signifiance for the people of Italy. As a filmmaker I feel responsible to address the issue in a humanistic manner. Just because someone is born on the other side of the Mediterranean, it doesn’t mean he or she does’t have the right to live a good life.
Q. Your film on
has been travelling all around the globe. How was the response to the film after the recent screening in Guwahati? A.
To tell you the truth, I was really surprised to see the kind of response the film got. There was a natural connect with the film’s subject. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that in India internal migration happens all the time. Some of the viewers present at the screening even shared their own experiences of migrating from one part of the country to another in the hope of better prospects.
Q. Tell us about the kind of research that goes into the making of your films, especially since they are are so closely influenced by realty. A.
For me the research begins with reading a lot of articles. Then I like to interview people and record their responses. Back in 2011, during the Arab Spring, I talked to a lot of immigrants who came to Italy from North Africa. The experiences they narrated helped me add real traits to my characters in Taranta on the Road. It also helped me understand their sensibilties and aspirations. Similarly, for I interviewed a lot of different people across Italy. Many of them narrated their experiences and it occurred to me that many second-generation youngsters from the immigrant community are sub-