We shot for a whole month.
These are some moments and some days we would like to share with you.
The spirit that was behind the camera is hidden in these words.
Barefooted girls, with red make up on their eyes and big gold earrings; are walking between the puddles.
The procession is about to begin: children with bicycles, monks, many women dressed in white, buddhist flags and drums, fans and men in velvet between meadows; alongside the river. It took hours to put together all these things.
On horizon clouds are becoming more and more swollen and gray.
The elephant is waiting to be brought among the people. He is the only one who is not running away from the storm which soaked us when everything was ready, the next instant Suranga yelled: action!
The atmosphere is the same as when you do something for the first time. Endless attempts, hoping that everything will go well and thousand hitches.
Keys get lost, it pours, the moped doesn’t start, the helmet is missing, we push the car and find the keys, we get wet but everything starts to turn in the right direction.
There must be a lot of patience, go out of the dimension of timeless, to enter the dimension of time.
Scenes are repeated. An entire world revolves around the film. Many people were born in Sri Lanka and live here in Verona for many years, and then there are children who were born here. All of them knows the souls of this two places.
There are also those who came here just to work on the film. They are not tourists: most of the time the language used to speak is sinhalese and the food eaten, all together, is spicy.
We live in two houses given free by some friends.
Opening the doors of these houses there is a new smell, which was not there before: the smell of turmeric.
While we are eating, sun shines and raising the head there are orange creepers flowers on the facade. The house is uninhabited, I don't know for how long. Doors are sealed by the bailiff.
Entering the rooms it is like we are forcing something: a remembrance, a memory, relationships that can't be forgotten.
Maybe a granny have died here and before she must have ceased to be self-sufficient, she must have ceased to be able to walk, to cook.
Someone, maybe another woman, should have came to help her.
A granny should have lived here with all her saints, with her plastic flowers, the teddy bears, the photos with her dogs and then the wheelchair.
In this rooms, silence is filled with a presence.
Sunita is on the red armchair and before I realize it, I get scared;
In few moments I understand that she isn’t a presence from beyond. Instead she is an actress on a break and also a caregiver came to start a new chapter of her life, to change it into something else.
Drinking a hot coffee, Sunita is telling me that every son absolutely love their mother. They would never want that their mother loves anyone else.
Just the thought of the distance makes us cry.
This film is a great work of composition. Not only because everyone makes his own part. A great part of time is devoted to recove what many other people provide, join and make it accessible to all.
A glaring example is the food: there isn’t just one person responsible for cooking, professional chefs or specialized caterings.
There are many women and some men who hold with it daily: continuously calls, “it’s ready”, “it’s not ready”, “ shortly you can come”.
It’s all a drive and wait for each other.
We move from a house to take the rice, to another to take the sauces, to another one to take the chicken curry and so on.
Pans are closed with scotch, oversized lids, ladles were passed from hand to hand d.
Baskets of freshly picked grapes were gifted to us.
All of those things were prepared from families and friends.
We ate with hands, we shared the food and washed the dishes together. Stuti, thank you.
Yestday we went to a restaurant, where one of us had worked. This restaurant supports the project , so the owner offerd us a dinner.
Did you write that yesterday was a terrible day?'- said an actress.
All the contingencies of today were due to cars, driving, and the dream of making a film in Italy involving people with different habits and laws, who in some cases don't even have citizenship's rights.
Even during the summer it seemed that everything would be washed down the river; until the last moment,in which the embassies gave them the visas.
Unlike for those who already live in Italy, for those have been born in another country, the denials are a part of thir everyday life.
For example: the driving licence of thier country is not valid. So we drive someone to a place, exchange our cars, keys, documents even if it involves a difficult commitment of organization.
In Italy cars and garages are a big symbol of private property. Here people, most of the time, don’t drive someone else’ car, to avoid the risk of scratching or damaging it, or have an accident. For a stop of 20 minutes in front of the garage of a neighbor; we risked a complaint to the police. This happened because one of our old cars' battery was dead and so we were waiting in front of her garage for a friend who was coming to help us. Policemen, fines, ztl, stop with hour limits, written and unwritten highway code .
'When I bumped into the bus I thought about my children, thanks to the memory of them, I saved myself'.
At 8 o’clock in the evening, we are at the 7th floor of a building, where there are five apartments.
Who lives there? Srilankans, ghanaians, one is on sale and in another one the owner is never there.
We feel at home. Neighbours prepare us some tea.
We are so many with all the equipment we need. From the window the masts of a hydroeletric plant, a channeled river to produce and more further a heavily industrialized area can be seen: sheds, other sheds, small houses and superstores.
One of us lives in that building and immediately his life become the background of the film. It’s not an autobiographic movie, but it’s inspired by our lives. Some of our grandmothers emigrated, some of our mothers worked as caregivers, others have been treated by foreign caregivers, some of us have been a teenagers who were angry to be between two frontiers and many languages, others have left their country during the adulthood and built new half-breed communities.
At a certain moment, from the stairs come out three ghanaian girls.
Maybe they have felt that it spoke also about their lives.
In the afternoon, in San Nazaro St., I was carrying the shopping bags. I stopped in front of a scene.
A girl of about 10 years and her little brother are crossing the road.
They are about to open the door when a car accost. A woman yells: ‘Next time your brother goes under a car, you know that?! Sooner or later you both will end up under a car. Tut! Where is your mother? WHERE IS YOUR MOTHER?!?!?!? ’.
The girl answer just: ‘At home’.
I look at them, maybe they are srilankans or bengali.
They step in.
I asked the lady why she yelled in that way, to the two children.
She answer me that they have to be scared. She answer me “go to hell”.
Today from the set sounds of drums, chants and prayers came out.
There is a burning smell, but also an incense smell.
If cinema is not a meaningless charade, if it’s not only a contrived representation of reality, not an empty repetition; something is going on inside. But I don’t know what.
When we shot the scenes of the procession, the monk wasn’t a real one; but a real one was there to make sure that the one who was representing him, was respecting some rules. The solidarity of the srilankan community was real, their support was real; even if the elephant was made of papier-mache.
Today Malshan and Saranga told me that they don’t believe in what is happening inside the house, in the ritual that should exorcise and protect Kamal. Around there are many charlatans who claims to have spiritualities that they don’t have.
Suranga says that in a part of the world this gestures are real, while in another part they lose their meaning.
And who stays between this two worlds?
Is there a link between fiction and reality?
Is there always a point in which fiction and reality get in touch; considering that if even the smell of incense has pacify our souls during the shootings, and if that guy, after shooting the scene of bullying, have cried.
‘While shooting this film, do you revive your life?’
‘My life is different, but in general this film tells about all the foreign parents in Italy and many children who stayed in their country when their parents were coming here. Meanwhile they grew up’ .
Many parents leave their country thinking that they can give their children a better life, but leave is really the better solution?’
The experience was really positive.
Sometimes we heard some racist insults to our group.
Being a mixed team, we suffered those insults together; italians and srilankans.
From italians to srilankans because of the skin color. From italians to italians because they were working with srilankans.
No place is abandoned by everyone and no history is forever forgotten.
Windows are broken, doors are open, the building is rusty, there is no more anything under the platform of the gas station.
But trees have grown in the middle, walls are full of graffiti, a little table made of bricks is in the middle of the square, it's like a huge room and a fire was recently lighted. A gang, a sect, some homelessness, some refugees, some hookers, there was surely someone who lives there. Is unthinkable that nobody lives in a huge place like that.
We are in the middle of the countryside, of the fields, of the nurseries, of the wineries, of the asphalt and of the rows of cars.
Today is the first day of autumn. It’s cold.
We drink a hot tea and eat apples and a cinnamon pie.
We all learned how to say 'thank you' in sinhala: 'Stuti'. Then Diego asked how to say “you’re welcome”.
Kaushi explaines us that “you’re welcome” in sinhala doesn’t exists. Many polite expressions have been introduced by the british. In her language, before colonialism, no one used to say good morning or good evening; because time there is never gloomy and so is senseless wishing a good morning, the sun and warmth will be there in any case.
Before the arrival of the british people, who introduced these figures of speech, to greet people used to touch each other (heart, foot, hands or eyes) or they used to say “may you have merits” (=spiritual credit granted for good works) because sinhala has religious origins. People don’t even say 'I love you' because they think that there are more noble feelings than the word 'love'. For example to say to someone you love, you can say ‘amma’ (mother) and if you say it to your children it seems that you have a great sense of honour.
They only sex scene of the film has been shot today in this anonymous place, apparently abandoned.
The rest of the evening has been dedicate to the scene of an embrace: a guy was learning to hug his mother.
Kirti is on the last rung of the ladder.
He is moving some black pannels on the roof around the light.
Channa is looking the wall, the air; he is following the shadows and the lights with his eyes. They agree, in an imperceptibily way, about the position.
Kirti brooch the fabric to the roof.
We saw him perched on the lampposts of a pubblic garden, in perfect balance on the stairwells on the seventh floor, stable on three stacked crates which were one smaller than the other.
Channa is continuing to move around the room to glimpse the reflections and the ghosts of this house.
Everything reflects and projects our presence in this creative process, even in its materiality. Often, inside this house, we used to shoot night scenes during the day and day scenes during the night. It goes along with the disruption of the rythms of the days.
We used to sleep just a little and yesterday, for example, we didn’t sleep at all.
The hospital was strangely calm.
The characters aren’t only roles; they are also moments of our lives.
Today Nella turned 72 years, actress for passion, dweller of the mountain.
It always comes to the moment where we have to leave. The leaving is also the untold origin of this film.
A day Sunita left her island and entrusted his son to the cares of someone else. A day her son left his house and came to live in his new house in Italy.
Yesterday we greet each other. Shootings are finished, it was the moment for the party, the time to clean and to cry, the time of trains and airports.
Tonight my brothers won’t fill this house with laughters and socks. I cooked the purple cabbage that Nella gave me and the Tortellini which were given by Suranga’s mother.
The pots are dispersed.
No house will be as before. The broken objects, the forgotten ones and those gifted; they deny the separation and continues to keep us together in a group that don’t have a name yet, as the film has no title.
On the van we fantasize about our upcoming trips, in Sicily or Sri Lanka with our 12 seats van and that we will call us with a postesotic name.