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Claudia Tosi • Director of I Had a Dream

"A desire to roll up our sleeves"


- Claudia Tosi, winner of three awards at DOK Leipzig, including the Golden Dove, talks about I Had a Dream, a film about the political journeys of two Italian women over the last ten years

Claudia Tosi  • Director of I Had a Dream

We met up with the Italian director Claudia Tosi, winner of three awards at DOK Leipzig festival, including the Golden Dove and the FIPRESCI Award, to discuss I Had a Dream [+see also:
film review
interview: Claudia Tosi
film profile
, a film about the political journeys of two Italian women over the last ten years.

Cineuropa: What was the initial project? When did you decide to adopt a retrospective approach with comments from the main characters ten years later?
Claudia Tosi: When I started shooting in 2008, I was planning to make a quick film about the general election. At the time, Berlusconi was at the height of his international fame, more for his demerits than anything else, and those elections seemed to announce his definitive defeat. It seemed symbolic to describe Berlusconi’s decline from the perspective of women, so penalised by his policies, and I wanted to do it from within, through the personal stories of two average citizens, non-professional politicians, who were very busy and passionate. I began to learn from them what it meant to be in politics, how difficult it is to compare people, summarise their needs and to get results when there are so many needs. Berlusconi, however, won the election, so my film lost its raison d'etre. I had a timeline of events, but I couldn’t identify anything universal in the footage. I set the film aside, and then in 2011 a Norwegian friend urged me to pick it up again. The birth of the female If Not Now When movement gave me a new narrative to work on. In 2016, I realised, looking at the material from my protagonists' perspective, that a story was emerging about disappointment. But this clashed with what I saw, two passionate and combative women capable of inspiring trust and hope, a breath of fresh air in a world poisoned by the winds of anti-politics and the rise of populism. 

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Do you see the process of their detachment from politics as something that built up over time, or was there a particular breaking point?
Manuela and Daniela haven't actually left politics. Daniela is still a councillor until next May and will continue to work at an associative level. She is the one who perhaps embarked on a political adventure with more expectations, compared to Manuela, but then clashed with budget limitations, disharmony among colleagues, struggles between local parties. Even the continuous losses to populist parties, the idea that a strong man in charge is the only solution, contributed to instilling a profound sense of disillusionment in her. Manuela continues to work in politics, but I don't think she's up for applying to office. I would say that she experienced frustration as a parliamentarian, especially when the opportunity to weigh in on problems in order to solve them seemed close at hand but, for various reasons, ended up not being possible. I think the breaking point was – as she says in the film – an awareness of the impossibility to turn passion into action. It wasn't a specific moment that caused the change, the qualitative leap, but a quantitative increase, the accumulation of small repeat disappointments. 

Is Manuela's final analysis shared by others (the Partito Democratico, or Italy as a whole...), given its pertinence in today's world? Having identified the problem so well, was there no attempt to promote her analysis?
The country seems to have been in a constant state of psychoanalysis since 4 March. Analysis is essential in order to summarise anything, but sometimes it can keep us focused on the past while the world around us progresses. If we don’t analyse things while taking into account the dynamics of transformation, but only describe the reasons for a precise event, located in a particular space and time, it can be difficult to understand where to go next. I think that’s what Manuela means when she says that "a project is missing", or when Daniela – although not in the film – laments that today's discourse only focuses on who should be party leader, obviously one of a certain number of male candidates. 

Leipzig has awarded the film multiple prizes, but what was the audience's reaction?
The three awards at Leipzig were a real surprise. Someone admitted to having cried, to have felt emotional. Not anger, fortunately, but a desire to roll up their sleeves. A young Italian viewer, now living in Berlin, sent me a beautiful email after seeing the film in Leipzig, which shows that the film has inspired people to be active, to fight for change. I am very happy to see that my interpretation of Manuela and Daniela's adventures, which is entirely positive, is shared by viewers. Italy is facing a very dark and, in some ways, discouraging period in its history, but it is also true socially that for every action there is a reaction, and maybe a season of passionate struggle will open up.

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