10th Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival
International Competition
Giulia Di Battist
Domani All’alba
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We are in 1943, Italian population has been called to duty. Amerigo is the only man of his small town who was not drafted due to his crippled leg. He lives with his wife and daughter, which is seriously ill. She needs medical attention as soon as possible. This short film explores the conflict of interest between the individual and the community, adding some veins of thriller to the recipe. Amerigo will have to face a hard choice: follow popular belief and delegate his daughter's treatment to the village holy woman, or follow his family and walk the valley searching for a doctor.

Hi Giulia thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

Hi there and nice to meet you all! These are strange times indeed, I’m still trying to understand what is going on. I feel like although we’re constantly talking about this emergency, there is still a lot to understand and interiorize in how it changed our ways of behaving.  

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Actually, yes! I thought that the vacuum would have made me go into crisis, but actually I tried my best to make this time productive and for some ways I think it worked even more than I expected. I was writing for the pleasure of it, without any pressure given by time or by other works’ deadlines, and I wasn’t in a situation like this for a while. It was the right time to stop one moment and recollect thoughts and feelings.

Congratulations on having Domani All’alba selected for this year's Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of films?

I’m very honoured to be part of the festival, and all the organizations are amazing. Everyone who is working behind this is moved by passion and you can totally feel that. Is always beautiful when this happens. Especially in hard times like these ones. Arranging a festival nowadays is tough, but I am amazed by how the festival managed to rearrange itself. I am very sorry I won’t be able to participate physically, since I had a surgery recently it’s not possible, but I am still getting good vibes about it. And I am very curious to see the other shorts in competition.    

Domani All’alba is in the International Competition, does this add any additional pressure on you?

More than pressure, I would say curiosity and excitement. Of course there is always a bit of pressure when you’re representing your country, but I think is always a constructive experience to confront with other countries, to get the chance to see what kind of stories are been told elsewhere and discover that most of the times although the story could be declined into a very characteristic way, the inner feelings and messages are universal. Also, watching other shorts/films is always a chance to grow up.

Domani All’Alba

"...it was hard to realize a story that is settled in WWII, especially from a stenographic point of view. It was hard to find the perfect, uncontaminated locations."

Can you tell me a little bit about Domani All’alba, how did this film come about? What inspired the screenplay?

The film is inspired by a story about witches that my grandma used to tell me, and that happened to her. I had the idea to transpose it into a short from a while, and since I’m also passionate about anthropology -especially all those magical/superstitious aspects and rituals which where so common not long ago in Italy (and still nowadays survive in small countries)- I thought it was the best chance to combine these two aspects. With my screenwriters we took what happened to my grandmother and placed it some years before, during World War II. This because we thought it would have been interesting to face this period under another point of view, not putting the war at the centre of the story, but leaving it as a monstrous background which, of course, influences what happens in the life of the main characters.

What I also tried to face with this short is an under topic that really fascinates me: we live nowadays in a time where women are finally raising their voices and taking equal rights (although this fight is still long), but what about men? If the patriarchal stereotypes are falling, men are not called anymore to answer the question “how to be a man”, but rather they will have to ask themselves “what kind of man I want to be?” and I think this is what happens to Amerigo, the main character of Domani all’alba.

He is a crippled man and for this he cannot go to fight the war, he is the only young man left in his village. This puts him under a lot of pressure, as this disablement doesn’t make him feel man enough, while the people from the village ask him this: to be a man. But what does this mean? 

I thought it could have been really interesting to face such an actual topic and to see how still was present in the past. At the same time we have Ida, Amerigo’s wife, who is hated by the village exactly for the same reason: because she is not the traditional kind of woman, she is a strong woman who is ready to fight against everyone to protect what is important for her.

Did you face many challenges bringing this film to life?

For sure it was hard to realize a story that is settled in WWII, especially from a stenographic point of view. It was hard to find the perfect, uncontaminated locations. As it was hard to shoot it in the dialect from Abruzzo, where the story is settled. I am deeply grateful to my two actors, Camillo Marcello Ciorciaro (Amerigo) and Maria Stella Cassano (Ida), they putted a lot of effort into learning this dialect, as both of them are from south of Italy and so with a complete different dialect than the one of my story. But they did great and trusted the project a lot, and I think this is something that a spectator can feel. Also, we had only four days to shoot, which was peculiarly hard since we had a lot of different locations and two choral scenes. But the cast and crew were amazing, they put 100% and I am proud of them.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

I would say yes, but only because this always happens to me (and I bet to a lot of directors). Orson Welles was the kind of guy that was constantly editing, even when the movie was already done. He was obsessed with improving what he shot and I can understand that feeling. I think it is a natural flow, also because directing is connected with what you feel at the moment, and this of course changes with time passing and new feelings coming to you. But I can say that I’m happy with the result!

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I discovered the love for cinema not long ago. I didn’t know much about cinema, my passion was drawing, and before studying directing I studied Media Design and Multimedia Arts. I wanted to be an art director for animations. During my studies I had a history class of history of cinema. We watched, among other movies, Persona by Bergman and Nostalgia by Tarkovskij, and these two movies blew my mind. I understood that cinema could have been the perfect way to express myself. So after I got graduated I shot a short documentary called Rèsce La Lune (Here cometh the moon). While shooting I confirmed that directing was exactly what I wanted to do in life. And I was lucky, because not only Rèsce La Lune went to a lot of festivals, but also was the project that got me into my school, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia.

"...no one can reach perfection from the beginning, and the way to get close to it is to try..."

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

The best advice and hardest to put in practice- I’ve received is to learn to fail and to accept it. We live in a fast society, where there is always the pressure to succeed and immediately. I think maybe we lost the perception that results need effort. And that not always things go perfectly. But to make mistakes is also important, as is the best way to learn. Also they make you stronger, as next time you won’t make the same mistake you did before. For me it was a hard concept to interiorize, as of course all of us want things to be perfect. But I’ve definitely learned more by my mistakes rather than my success! We need to get in contact again with our humility and more over to face this society’s fear of mistakes.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

I guess this is the only way we can come up with new languages and masterpieces. 

Of course it is a hard path, especially looking at what was done before us. But the most interesting movies I’ve seen are the ones which try exactly to do this. I think the important thing is to keep authenticity. Not in the sense that we all have to do realistic films, not at all. What I mean is that this can happen when the feeling you want to tell, the purpose why you're telling to an audience this specific story instead another one, must be sincere.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

For sure I would advise to always follow sincerity. To try to pursue what feels true regarding the story you want to tell. I also would advise to not be afraid to follow what your instinct tells you is right. Sometimes there are things that perfectly work on the paper, but your instinct might tell you otherwise. Think about it, and if your instinct keeps talking to you, follow it. Pay attention to the actors, they might be your best friends when the shooting arrives, as the story has to pass through them. Don’t underestimate them, but at the same time don’t leave everything to them, as they need to be involved in your vision. Only in this way they can interiorize what you want and give even more than what you asked. Plan, as the more you plan the more you have solid ground. But also let yourself be inspired by the set, allow yourself the possibility to improvise if you feel you want to.

And make a lot of mistakes, as no one can reach perfection from the beginning, and the way to get close to it is to try, maybe failing, then try again and do better!

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Domani All’Alba?

I hope the audience will feel this story as contemporary despise is settled in the past. I hope they will get in touch with the feelings of the main characters, and it would be great if they would be moved by them. I also hope this story could remind them of their grandparents if they’re young, or their parents if they’re older and so on. But mainly I hope they will enjoy and let themselves be transported by the atmosphere and the emotions. Also, if someone is curious about something or they just want to let me know how they felt watching it would be amazing!

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