documentary - 52'/70' - 2016 - in production
director: Katia Bernardi
director of photography: Sebastiano Luca Insinga and Nicola Cattani
sound recordist: Marco Troiano and Gabriele Borghi
editing: Diego Volpi
music: Ezio Bosso, Matej Mestrovic, Andrea Gattico and Vincenzo Marando
produced by: Jump Cut, EiE Film, Chocolat and Restart
in coproduction with: HRT Croatia
with the support of: Hydro Dolomiti Enel, Municipality of Valdaone and Trentino Film Commission
and with the support of: Comunità delle Giudicarie, Iniziative e Sviluppo soc. coop. and Zadar Film Commission
Daone, a wild, cold, timeless mountain village. A group of "girls" in their eighties are attending a meeting at the "The Rhododendron", the local women's club. Today they are discussing an important matter. The crisis hit hard and this year the club doesn't have the money to organise the long-coveted trip to celebrate the club’s twentieth anniversary. The trip is special also because many of the club members will get to to see the sea for the very first time. The women's attempts to get fundings through the usual means - embroideries, cakes and polenta sold at country fairs - this time are not enough. Erminia, the energetic seventy-years old president of the club, her faithful friend Armida, the village's best ballroom dancer and Iolanda, also known as miss apple pie, have an idea: what if they, too, would make a calendar to go selling door-to-door at Christmas time, just like the local firefighters club does? Yes, but what sort of calendar? They need a lot of money to make the trip happen. The calendar will have to be something truly unique and special, full of their energy, their longing for freedom and of their desire to get away from the mountain. Some girls at the club are not fully convinced by the project; others believe that selling it door to door won't be enough. The arrival of Massimo, a young photographer from the city, will bring a bit of chaos and quite some excitement among them. Together with Massimo, they decide to make a special calendar: a calendar that talks about their dreams. The thirteenth month will be about their common dream - to go see the sea. At least once in their lifetime.
I met them recently – or rather they met me. The sea dreaming girls – because the sea, they had never seen it, except for when it was on TV or depicted on some old postcard. For the past eighty years, their lives had always been there, in that forgotten mountain village. I met them once on a winter morning, just outside the town hall. The meeting of their club was just over. It had been about the economic crisis, and about the destination of their annual trip. They were chatty and noisy, as usual. It was one of those encounters that make history. We looked at each other in the eyes; one could see the signs of time and cold weather on their skin. Their smiles were big, their past told stories of work and suffering; they had the typical irony of those who understood that a laughter is good for you – it keeps the moods away and it dispels the thought of death. Me too, I was trying to live with serendipity, to take life lightly, to maintain some sort of innocence while I was looking for stories and for the way to tell them. I was especially looking for stories about women. I was looking for women like them. Me too, I had secret wishes and I needed to narrate them. I wanted to tell about those women’s dreams, and about the challenge they took up in order to fulfill them.
It was not long before I was accepted as a honorary member of the Rhododendron club. I slowly became part of the community. The women invited me in their houses and in they showed me the way through their memories; they showed me around their past and their present – it smelled like fresh laundry and roe deer stew. They welcomed me in their slow-paced daily life. Everything was reassuring, perhaps a little boring at times – but full of that special kind of womanly sharing life and life things together. They would believe in each other, help each other, support each other, and they would do it lightly, with a glass of wine, some dancing and a laugh. I got invited to their parties, afternoon teas, tombola games, to the Saint Bartholomew festival. We got many coffees together – they would always pour a little bit of grappa in it. We shared happy moments, sad moments, bereavements, christenings, and some dreams, too. One day, they told me about one of them: they were dreaming about going to the seaside, somewhere far way, wearing fancy dresses. They also added that they would have brought a slice of polenta in their purses, because you can never know, in life.
This is what my movie is about. It is about girls wanting to wear a fancy dress, but who would always carry some polenta in their handbags; it is about being tied to a place, but feeling the urge to leave it; it is about freedom and emancipation; it is about turning roles upside down, and how it is possible to do it even in the smallest, most close-minded places; it is about the way a whole community can change its point of view about people and about life. The calendar requires bravery, and in that bravery one can see a race against time. It is a race to fulfill one’s dreams – even if it is only through a simple photograph. Present dreams, not past ones. I have the same dream, too: I dream about seeing the sea in those women’s eyes. And to tell the world about it.