I spoke with producer, director and actress, Emanuela Ponzano about the inspiration behind this film and its relevant social message.
La Slitta is a beautiful story about the human condition and the challenges in growing up. Why did you want to tell the story of this boy and his isolation?
Having been born abroad and personally having had a fair share of the many forms given to the word “immigrant”, I have chosen to direct my attention to the question of racism, which seems to have made a predominant come-back to our country and in the rest of Europe. According to the richly informative “Report on racism in Italy” relative to recent years, it appears that the current situation is not one to be taken lightly. The rhetoric of “foreigners stealing our jobs” is what fuels anger towards immigrants. Thus, in recent years, thanks to a spreading sense of foreboding caused by growing job insecurity combined with an incessant and alarmist media campaign, the migratory fluxes from North Africa and Eastern Europe have become targets of a new and disquieting form of hostility. My motivation for wanting to make this film is the desire to write and direct a short movie that is authentic, from the heart, and accessible to everyone; educational in the sense that it will deal with important issues such as racism and communication barriers between children and parents, as well as the indoctrination that children receive as part of their upbringing, which can indeed include racist inclinations that they are not yet able to discern. It’s about solitude, about dealing with and listening to other people, about dreams of a better life.
|With Emanuela Ponzano at the Bella Basilicata Film Festival|
The surreal component in the form of the “Sled”, as well as being the symbol of a downhill journey and a way out, lifts the film from its realistic narrative plane and allows it to add the intimate dimension of a child’s world and imagination. The sled and its owner, an Albanian boy (with his good sides and bad, as with everyone) are Alfred’s new friends. Through sport and games you can unite two different cultures.
In addition to being the director, you play the part of the mother. What are the challenges in directing yourself?Well it’s not easy at all. A lot of work goes into directing, leaving little time to concentrate on acting. So I worked a lot beforehand, and on set, I chose a good technical team.
I noticed the internationally diverse cast. What is the Albanian connection?
Well Riccardo Specchio who plays the main character is half Italian and half Albanian and it is a wonderful coincidence. I chose to talk about Albania because they were the first immigrants to arrive in Italy 30 years ago. People are more apt to understand now because they've known each other for a longer time. It would be more difficult talking about Syrian people now. There's still too much confusion.
Why did you choose Basilicata as its location?
Well Basilicata came to me. I met lot of people from Basilicata and the Film Commission was interested in my story. And when I first saw Monte Sirino I was shocked by the beauty and the immensity of the mountains.
Festival distribution, yes. The world premiere for "la Slitta" will be in Belgium at the 32 FIFA Festival International du film d’Amour de Mons on 24 February, and I’m happy about that.
Ponzano has directed a number of films. In 2008, she directed the experimental short film "Bagnasciuga" and the short film "Riflessi". They have since been shown at many national and international festivals and won three National prizes in 2010. "La Slitta" is her second short narrative fiction film. She is currently developing the script for her first feature.