Cosenza applauds Matteo Garrone and his ‘I captain’: “I only told about life”

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By John

And while the landings on our coasts follow one another and, at the same time, the age-old rebound of responsibilities for deaths, hunger and misery that surround migrants’ journeys of hope is staged in television debates, here Matteo Garrone and its “I captain”. The Roman director was a guest last night on the Citrigno cinema stage for the Spring of Italian CinemaAnd Cosenza it brought him luck. A few moments before appearing and talking to the public, the artistic director is present Massimo Galimberti and the creator and president Anec Calabria Giuseppe Citrigno, received the news that “I Captain” was nominated for an Oscar. «News that fills us with joy – said Garrone – and we are very proud. We will do our best to get as high as possible. And we are very confident that it can also be distributed in American theaters.”
With “I Captain”, the filmmaker does not claim to take a position on such a hot and current topic. He remains firmly on the tracks of his usual stylistic code and offers a new perspective both compared to what has already been seen in the cinema and on TV, and to genre narration, overturning the classic gaze of the camera and focusing it decisively on the journey of the two protagonists, on of them, from their perspective. The trip is a bit of a dream. Seeking a better life, looking out onto twilight horizons veiled in that red that opens the doors to the hope of a more satisfying future. Comparisons with the Homeric epic are aplenty. It’s a training trip. This time, in the plot there is no escape from desperation, hunger, war. Seydou and Moussa are two modern-day Senegalese boys with a great desire to improve their living conditions. With a mother who tries to dissuade them and a shaman who gives them the green light, crowning six months of work with which the two young men, in great secrecy, have saved the money to leave. The turning point in their young lives comes when they arrive in Europe, a land they learned about from the media, from the disruptive force of globalization. And here Garrone decides not to explore the motivations further, and starts from the three-month personal experience spent in close contact with many African kids who very simply, the director stated, «cannot understand how other peers, who often they speak their own language, they can freely come on holiday to Africa, while they cannot go to Europe.”
So he begins to follow them along the arduous route that leads to the “promised coasts”. Without neglecting the difficulties involved in crossing the desert in certain conditions, the experience with the detention centers in Libya. And then the sea, the makeshift boat, finding oneself captain/smuggler (Seydou) of a crew without having even imagined that it could happen, without thinking about the consequences that all this could entail, without knowing how to swim. In difficult moments, the journey becomes a fairy tale. The dreamlike dimension bursts in to ease the tension of reality. Because it’s still a fairy tale. Because he is still Matteo Garrone.

In a story like this, it’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric… what saved it?

«The fact of having told a true, authentic, documented story. With actors and extras who had experienced some of those situations. And then, the point of view. We turned the camera upside down and told the journey, the experience, from Africa to Europe.”

Dreamlike dimension and reality, ideal ingredients for a fairy tale, but the end of Seydou and Moussa’s journey seems to welcome a happy ending that still has everything to gain…

«The happy ending is linked to Fofana, a boy who managed to save 250 people and is real, today he lives in Belgium».

The protagonists are not fleeing from poverty, desperation or war, can their experience be compared to migratory phenomena different from those of the African population?

«Yes, the substance is common to all those who seek new opportunities to improve their living conditions. And we understand it. We’re Italian”.

In addition to the Silver Lion, in Venice the Golden Lion awarded to “I Captain” by the student jury is a great satisfaction…

«Yes, I told the story of life and everyone gets their own message, I don’t want to dispense messages».
Tonight, the program of the Spring of Italian Cinema offers two docufilms: at 6pm, at the Citrigno cinema, «Pino Daniele – Il tempo restarà» and at 8pm «Enzo Jannacci, Vengo anch’io» by Giorgio Verdelli. Tomorrow, a day dedicated to shorts, at 6.30pm, at the Citrigno cinema, with a debate meeting and the screening of some shorts. At 8.30pm, for the docufilm section, Cinema nel balloon, «Paolo Rossi. The man. The sample. The legend” by Michele Scolari.