‘I really like the style of directing, the storyline and the film’s narration.’
‘Very Italian style of directing and creative storytelling.’
Horse trading is one of the oldest crafts of the Roma, but running a butcher’s for horse meat is not a common activity. The Giagnotti family business can be seen as a metaphor: Italian cinema has a rich tradition in Roma representation, but we can find virtually no other documentary that is able to connect the past (collective and personal memory), present (a living community) and an idealistic future (where minorities are accepted in a culturally diverse world).
The filmmakers are guided by Claudio Giagnotti, a musician and producer as well as a member of the family, who introduces the viewers not only to Salento’s life and to the world where the Roma settled long ago, but also to his own community. We can closely observe hardworking families from several different aspects through the narratives of the many characters who tell us about their lives.
While family memories are recounted, we can observe the modern life that Romani people lead, reflecting the diversity of Romani communities.
Music is not only a strong element in setting the atmosphere, it also interrupts and is an important addition to the interviews and situations. Moreover, music adds a dynamic power to the creative narration. Traditional folk songs generate knowledge about the Italian Roma without the viewer even knowing the language. Recordings of Giagnotti’s concerts and performances create a film-in-film effect, since we are aware of the fact that after finishing the documentary, concerts and screenings would be organised all over Italy. Moreover, these are not just aimed at festival audiences. This dedicated activity is badly needed to raise awareness in a country where Romani communities have been living for many decades.
Most of the documentaries reveal the difficulties and prejudices Roma face, as well as the social and economical problems that hinder their integration. Interrogative reports based on sociological inquiries and activist videos often fail, despite their best intentions, because they cannot fulfil the ‘contract’ between the represented and the authors (to adapt the theories proposed by Ariella Azoulay). Some filmmakers have, however, succeeded in this endeavour, including Laura Halilovic, a young Roma woman who undertook a self-reflexive, sociographic investigation into this situation but from a different perspective with Eu, familia mea si Woody Allen (Me, My Gipsy family and Woody Allen).
Gitanistan was co-authored by Claudio Giagnotti, the main character, and thus it is no wonder that it involves, addresses and captures viewers – and not just for the hour we spend watching the film.
February 2017, Sguardi, Visioni, Storie, competition
September 2016, Evò ce esù – Visioni – Incontri di confine, tra Visi e Parlate, panorama
April 2016, Oczy i Obiektywy, competition
November 2015, Babel Film Festival, competition
April 2015, Ethnografilm Festival, panorama
April 2015, Oczy i Obiektywy, ‘Searching for Identity’
November 2014, IDFA – International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, documentary for sale
June 2014, Biografilm Festival, Biografilm Italia