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LECCE 2018

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Luciano Accomando • Director

"I wanted to approach immigration from another point of view – as a resource"

by 

- Luciano Accomando chatted to Cineuropa at the 19th Lecce European Film Festival about his documentary Immagine dal vero, which talks about successful stories of immigration in Sicily

Luciano Accomando • Director

It’s not all about boats, marginalisation and crime. Immigration success stories can also be found in Italy, which is what Immagine dal vero [+see also:
trailer
interview: Luciano Accomando
film profile
]
focuses on, a documentary by the Palermo-born director Luciano Accomando. The film reverses the point of view and recounts the experiences of five women and seven men who emigrated to Sicily (from Africa, Bangladesh, Romania...), all of whom have successfully integrated themselves into society thanks to work and those who believed in them. The documentary, winner of Best Film at Social Machinery FF and the Audience Award at Sciacca and Terni festivals, was screened at the 19th Lecce European Film Festival in the Cinema e realtà section. 

Cineuropa: Where did you find these stories and how did you select them?
Luciano Accomando:
We started with some psychosocial research led by doctor Angelo Scuzzarella. Initially we wanted to understand where the prejudice originates from, why immigrants often have low self-esteem and tend to resign themselves to fate. We conducted a field study using interviews in schools, questionnaires, etc. and then we went with our gut feeling, by analysing their various stories. Some people got lost on the streets, whereas Adham (a doctor of Palestinian origin) was a last-minute decision but ended up bringing so much to the story.

The initial idea was to approach immigration from a different point of view – as a resource. In Sicily, where there is a massive issue with migration, there are various success stories that can be used as a model of reference for others. Pre-production work on the film lasted a long time. We had to gain the trust of these people, because they are also prejudiced against us, too.

The doc, which is divided into chapters, is based on a journalistic structure, but also focuses a lot on the use of images. How did you work on all the collected material?
We used a steadicam, there is a lot of movement, even the choice of locations was accurate. The project lasted 18 very intense months. Initially I talked to people, and then I tried to convey everything that was said through images, by recreating that atmosphere. There were a lot of hours of film, I personally trawled through them all, because I wanted to re-immerse myself in their stories and take care of every detail. The hardest part was cutting all of the sentences together to create one single conversation. I didn't want you to hear me talking. The only way to create this documentary was through their words. The division into chapters comes from the fact that I’m also a writer. It’s a somewhat literary way of creating pauses and allowing the audience to breath, but it’s also a means of stimulating curiosity. 

What did you learn about departure when filming this documentary?
That there is great ignorance on the subject, so many clichés, fake news stories, etc. The media has a great responsibility in this regard. Immigrants, illegal refugees and terrorists all end up lumped together. The State and Europe must intervene, otherwise the issue will end up being dumped on society and a war between the poor will inevitable erupt. It’s important to talk about it. Integration is a two-way street, I welcome you and you welcome me. We’re not just talking about immigrants who arrive on boats, there are also people who arrived in Italy because they fell in love, people who came to study, and those who remained in spite of themselves. Desmond, for example, could no longer return to Sierra Leone because a civil war broke out in his country while he was in Italy. It was tough, but he never resigned himself to his fate as a "subordinate" and now he successfully coaches a basketball team. Success for these people is about being comfortable in themselves, with others, engaging in their jobs and integrating.

You previously mentioned that your documentary could represent a model of reference for other immigrants. What kind of distribution do you have in mind?
On the website (immaginedalvero.com) there’s a project called Adotta il film (adopt the film), where you can request to have the film screened throughout Italy. The main objective is schools, but also reception centres, associations and so on. In October the box set published by Leima will be released, and we are trying to come to agreements with TV stations. The film is a real social and awareness-raising tool and offers immigrants a means of inspiration and locals the opportunity to better understand the phenomenon. Italians need to know these stories in order to welcome them here and they need to be known. The hope is that the message will also reach Europe.

(Translated from Italian)

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