Ten minutes of applause just now at the end of the world premiere of Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno in the large hall of the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido of Venice. Happy with the tribute, the director competing for the Golden Lion with the film shot on the borders of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon spent three years in the Middle East, even risking his life.
Rosi, my encounters on the border between life and hell – The “need to go and see the other side”: Gianfranco Rosi’s starting point starts from the port of Lampedusa, the image of Fuocammare so strong that it has to look away, those bodies piled up in the hold of the boat. From that film, loved all over the world, Golden Bear in Berlin, nominated for an Oscar, we change but with Notturno even more. “I still find it difficult to elaborate today, it was an experience of very strong physical and emotional impact, spending three years in unknown places, without knowing the languages, staying for months in remote, dangerous, wounded places, it makes you feel different again and thank you again my producers who consoled me from a distance, gave me courage “, says Rosi, who is moved to remember his private feelings, in solitude – the film was shot by him with only one operator – among a humanity that is sad to say the least. Ora Notturno, in competition at Venice 77, from Wednesday will be in 80 selected cinemas distributed by 01 (it was produced by Donatella Palermo and Rai Cinema) and then around the world, already requested by many festivals: Toronto, Telluride, New York and again, today’s news, London, Busan, Tokyo. Protagonists “They are eight people, from distant places, different in experience”, their stories intertwine in a tragic mosaic that, although it does not explain the Middle Eastern dramas politically – “I am even more confused than when I left” – give the viewer a jolt against the anesthetization that we are all used to on the theme of migrants and forgotten wars. A film of light on the darkness of wars as Rosi himself defines Notturno shot dangerously in the Middle East on the always uncertain borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon. “What remains for me – says Rosi to ANSA – is a deep sense of love that I hope the public will grasp, this incredible sense of life in struggle in people who have suffered, who have had their lives upset by violence in their daily lives, I wanted tell about their existence in the balance between life and hell, try to identify myself, establish contact and from all this bring home a different view of the Middle East “. Notturno, underlines Rosi, “was born where the breaking news on the latest shipwreck stops, on the latest massacre to try to give an intimate, profound dimension”. He is not out yet, says the director, because his “characters are first of all people who have been around for months, establishing a relationship of trust”: And so he is happy to tell that some children in the orphanage, with post-traumatic syndromes such as stuttering, mental and growth retardation, insomnia, which they try to overcome by drawing their plays – “a Nuremberg for children” – “are now being treated in Germany”. While grieving at the thought that the girl whose desperate messages are heard on her mother’s mobile phone is still an “ISIS slave”, she is now freed after two years and safe in Stuttgart. Was it fair to show that death boat to Fuocammare? Is it okay to show the children’s room? “It would have been hypocritical not to show them – replies Rosi – in that room there is a fundamental historical testimony: the memory of the horrors. They are free, spontaneous tales of the survivors of massacres of the Yazidi community. For me to show these children, their fears, it was a necessary act, it is the heart of the film “. Quarantine, with our anxieties about the future and made the necessary differences, “will bring us even closer to that humanity. They have been living for years the suspended time, the waiting, the uncertain future and we too are measuring ourselves with the pandemic with this feeling. Nocturne in this seems to me more universal than I imagined “. The “purity of the artist” as the CEO of Rai Cinema Paolo Del Brocco called him, led Rosi into dangerous situations, “there were snipers around – reported Donatella Palermo – but he was thinking about his shots”. Too bad he shot at night during the curfew and that the escorts were sometimes real gangs, “I was one step away from being kidnapped,” admits Rosi. The boundaries along which he has traveled, very mobile and uncertain, “are also mental borders, the map of Notturno’s places is a psychogegraphy” of painful women, traumatized children, adolescents in search of the future, but told with great humanity and empathy.