Archivi categoria: Film (English)

JOANNA HADJITHOMAS E KHALIL JOREIGE

Article by Elio Sacchi

Translated by Federica Maria Briglia and Mattia Prelle

The cinema of Joanna Hadjithomas and Kalil Joreige – to whom the thirty-ninth edition of the Turin Film Festival dedicated a solo show and a masterclass, both curated by Massimo Causo – may lie between the beginning and the end of their artistic and cinematographic career. That means it is between the postcards of the opening credits of their first feature film, Around the Pink House (Al Bayt Al Zaher, 1999), and the box, the audiovisual archive of memory and remembrance that, like a very personal and foreign body, opens Memory Box (2021). Between these two extremes, within the more general framework of the history of Lebanon, of its destruction and of its reconstruction, there is a long and complex reflection on cinema, on the status of the image and, in particular, of the memory-image. When the past passes, the construction of a collective and shared memory becomes a difficult operation, which leaves enough room for memories and handy images that preclude the possibility of a complex narrative in favour of a superficial, conciliatory and pacifying narrative. This is what often happens after internal or fratricidal wars, which are followed by a reconstruction so fast that the past cannot be processed. This is also the case of Lebanon, considered the Switzerland of the Middle East in the 1960s: it was turned upside down first by a civil war and then by the conflict with Israel. The whole artistic parable of Hadjithomas and Joreige refers to this reality, and, in addition to cinema, crosses over into photography, performance arts and plastic arts. Their artistic parable contains its own moment of reflection and self-reflection. It is particularly evident in the performance Aida Sauve Moi, which makes explicit the questions that drive the expressive and creative urgency and necessity of the two directors: this is an indefinite and permeable border between reality and fiction, between personal experience and history. Their parable also contains the concept of latency, which is not only the physical, chemical and material concept of the negative impressed and never developed, but it also represents all the individual and particular latent stories, existing and never revealed, of the kidnapped and murdered Lebanese citizens, and of all the corpses that have never been found. Other elements included in their artistic parable include: the materiality of the image and of the testimonial object itself; the crossing and the attempt to take back public and collective spaces; and, finally, a boundless love for cinema. The last of these elements should be interpreted above all as an instrument of resistance and political commitment (in this regard, see Open the Door, Please [2006], a passionate and cinephile homage to the cinema of Jacques Tati). Joanna Hadjithomas and Kalil Joreige’s one is a self-reflexive cinema that also reflects on the status of the images it represents. This cinema has its genesis precisely in the overexposure to stereotyped images, whether they concern the civil war or the 1960s, as witnessed during the masterclass entitled Memory Work – Resistant Aesthetics in Hadjithomas & Joreige’s works (Rosita Di Peri also attended the event).

Actually, Around the Pink House has its origin in an earlier photographic project called Wonder Beirut. Hadjitomas and Joreige invented the figure of a Lebanese photographer, who immortalised Beirut in the 1960s and 1970s, before the civil war; the photographer then literally and materially burnt the buildings depicted on his postcards as they were bombed until the images were completely transfigured. The film does not tell the story of the Lebanese civil war, but rather the reconstruction of the capital in the 1990s, a period in which “the sound of bombs has given way to that of bulldozers” and in which the rubble shown in the background, physical and painful traces of a recent past, enters into a profound dialectic with the story of reconstruction and rebirth, which nonetheless involves the destruction of entire buildings. The maison rose itself is an archive of memory, of Lebanon’s history, a physical place that bears the marks of war, the memories of people who disappeared and the presence of refugees who were forced to leave their villages.


The maison rose is also an attempt done by a community to take its space back. This is the same public and collective space that Catherine Deneuve, the spirit of European cinema invoked in Lebanon as a foreign and empathetic body and led by Rabih Mrué (a recurring actor in the filmography of Hadjithomas and Joreige, he is a face that embodies the generational drama), wants to see but is prevented from doing so.
Je veux voir (2008) is a journey through a country devastated by the conflict with Israel. It stems from the need to show unconventional images (i.e. different from those broadcast by the various television stations) and to investigate new places, in a sort of palingenesis of the gaze and images of war. While in Rounds (2001), the wandering around the city – a Beirut that uses the rubble of buildings to build new roads by the sea – programmatically precludes the vision of public and city space, which is relegated to an off-screen that is always overexposed. Kiam 2000 – 2007, which began in 1999 and ended in 2008, is also the ideal counter-field to Je veux voir, since the detention camp described in it is an absolute off-screen narration, which can be only imagined by the human testimonies of the internees who invite us to reconstruct it in absentia. The film opens, once again, to an explicit reflection on memory. In 2006, in fact, the camp was turned into a museum and, still in 2006, was bombed by the Israeli army. Made almost entirely with rigorous close-ups and extreme close-ups, these vicissitudes gave rise to the need for Kiam: the urgency of the testimony necessarily refers to the camp, to its presence, it summons it and ultimately affirms its existence.


Their cinema is constantly in communication with the absence and the missing pictures, both personal, as in The Lost Film (Al Film Al Mafkoud, 2003), and collective (The Lebanese Rocket Society, 2012). And the ghost – as the directors admitted more than once – is a recurring figure in Lebanese culture and in its people’s daily life. A Perfect Day (Yawmoun Akhar, 2005) deals with ghost stories: piled up corpses in mass graves that no one discovered during the reconstruction of Beirut liven up and expand the story, claiming through a deafening silence their existence and death. This is a matter of faith and persistence of memory, because who believes in the ghost’s survival will be able to see it and reunite with it, whereas who tries to forget is forced to roam along the streets of a city that cannot be owned and cannot be seen (the contact lens do not adjust the sight, they rather produce a twisted and hallucinated vision of Beirut). Moreover, the film is based on the story of Joreige’s uncle, kidnapped during the war and still “missing”; one day, after many years, the directors found an undeveloped photo negative, a latent and phantasmal picture. The decision of transforming the negative-in-power into image-in-act corresponds to the desire of bringing back to light a unique and universal story, both personal and collective, through different concrete manipulations of the film. This story carries the marks of history, of the flow of time. Similarly, the city of Smirne is, in its reconstruction, a physical trace of the history passage: in Ysmirna (2016) the comparison between the early 1900s city map and the modern one shows the temporal distance of a mythical city, told by Joanna’s family and the one of the poet Etel Adnan (both of them have never been in the city of, respectively, their grandparents and parents), through an oral storytelling that intends to be a reenactment of a past in which one can find their roots.

Hadjithomas and Joreige’s more than twenty years of artistic activities and personal experiences break into a Lebanese family migrated to Canada, in the form of a big cardboard box. The package from Lebanon is an archive containing letters, photographs, notebooks, recordings of radio broadcastings and undeveloped films (Memory Box is freely inspired by the mailing correspondence that Joanna had with a friend of hers who migrated to Paris, suddenly interrupted after six years). This is an archive that causes the explosion of the underlying conflicts between the three different generations and, at the same time, it’s responsible for the deflagration of the film. Even if most of the films by Hadjithomas and Joreige have a material essence (and most of the films shown during the retrospective were projected in 35mm), Memory Box has a digital concept. Alex, the daughter, edits and manipulates the civil war testimonies according to her own grammar, which includes smartphones, instant communication, digital post-production and immateriality. The distance in space and time, and the reconstruction of the 1980s through their icons are not nostalgic at all, they are just needed to testimony and transfer the story. The intergenerational confrontation (the grandmother, Maia; the mother, who represents the directors’ generation; and the daughter) is about approaching the story of Lebanon, and thus becomes a matter of identity and belonging, that is opening up several possibilities of the storytelling for those generations that never experienced the conflict and whose memory may be lost.


The one of Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige is an artistically and conceptually coherent career that finds its raison d’être in the moral duty of making concretely, materially and visibly collective and public what the passage of the story of Lebanon has discolored, as if the past were an unimpressed and undeveloped film. An idea of political and civic cinema, a product of more than twenty years of activity that displays in the intergenerational confrontation of Memory Box the need to narrate the past in order to live the present and to imagine the future once again.

“INMERSIÓN” BY NICOLÁS POSTIGLIONE

Article by Sara Longo

Translated by Giulia Baldo

The boat trip of a father with his two daughters will soon become a nightmare. This is the simple premise on which is built Inmersión, the debut feature film of Chilean director Nicolás Postiglione that investigates what’s underneath its characters. «It’s a shame that no one comes here anymore» comments the father, while observing with nostalgia the places where he grew up, now apparently deserted. And yet, the unstable balance of the three protagonists is definitely destroyed by the encounter with some castaways who, after being welcomed aboard, start to make the father seriously fear for his and his daughters’ lives.

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“BETWEEN TWO DAWNS” BY SELMAN NACAR

Article by Luca Delpiano

Translated by Alexandra Oancea

In competition at the TFF39, the first feature film of the Turkish director Selman Nacar is an ethical and psychological drama that focuses on the process of change, fixing each of its smallest steps.

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“THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK” BY TAIKI SAKPISIT

Article by Davide Gravina

Translated by Rebeca Tirgovetu

The Incubator section of the TFF39 presents the first feature film by the Thailandese film director Taiki Sakpisit. Starting from a birthmark on the neck, moving on to the body of a half dead little girl, until arriving to a candid white dress, the director creates the gelid portrait of a deep inquietude transforming it in pure poetry.

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TORINO 39 SHORT FILMS

Article by Redazione DAMS

Translated by Valerio Copponi

Over the last two years, Torino Film Festival has given new life to the short film category by bringing them back in the official competition in the last edition. This year, they were at the centre of an interesting novelty: each of the twelve films selected by Daniele De Cicco has accompanied one of the feature films in competition before their respective screenings during the days of the festival. A signal of recognition and respect towards an increasingly popular practice in Italy, which has its core in the Turinese festival.

“LIBERTY” BY JOHANNA RÓŻNIAK

A group of youngsters fight for their ideals: an unacceptable action to the society which dominates the dystopian future in which the Polish director’s short film takes place.

Kuba, a young member of the opposition group, gets arrested and finds himself inside a super high-tech prison from which he could never escape, were it not for the help of his father, an important politician. The increasingly stringent limitations imposed on young people, the abuse of power by law enforcement, the technology able to violate any semblance of privacy, the recommendation: all these current themes are analysed perfectly over 14 minutes of terrifying reality.

“NIGHT” BY AHMAD SALEH

Starry and deadly night, a merciful goddess who, like a mother, puts to sleep her children, exhausted by the bombs, by the dust and by the unrelenting pain. A woman rebels against the sweet lullaby, lets out a desperate cry, an appeal of hope to find her young daughter, lifeless, buried under the rubble: what can the Night do but bring peace to her soul, as well? Palestinian director Ahmad Saleh, in this grueling short film, talks about the infamy of war, which forces men to accept their departure peacefully, as the only solution to rid themselves of the constant threat of the shootings and violence.  

“LA ÚLTIMA PIEZA DEL PUZZLE” BY RICARDO MUÑOZ

Freedom, continuously evoked by the words on the poster: “PUEBLO SATISFECHO, PUEBLO LIBRE” (“satisfied People, free People”), and its denial, which can be caused by something as simple as reacting to law enforcement authorities, are at the core of the short film by the Venezuelan director. By narrating the simple story of citizen Albertini, who is always missing one piece to complete his puzzles, Ricardo Muñoz lets out a cry of rebellion against the main totalitarian regimes which have dominated numerous countries and continue to do so.

“MAVKA” BY ANASTASIA LEDKOVA

The short film by Anastasia Ledkova is an exquisite, dream-like look at a family tragedy. The death of a woman might be the right time for her son and husband to start a new life. The two of them have different views on the idea of moving, but all that is overshadowed when the son finds a sweet and mysterious girl, concussed, on the bank of a river. The unknown girl wins over the two protagonists with her elegance and innocence, behind which hides a terrible truth that will hit them both hard.

“BACKYARD CAMPING” BY MOR HANAY

A peaceful and pleasant night under the stars seems to be the best way to resolve, although temporarily, the numerous family problems that the protagonist couple have and are aware of. The backyard is the setting, the camping tent becomes a fortress, but the desired resolution never comes, because of a surreal thief and an unbeatable tree.

“RENDEZ-VOUS” BY ROSHANAK AJAMIAN

Baran and Navid are a young Iranian couple going through a crisis. Baran intends to end the relationship as she is in love with her husband’s sister. The shock is painful, especially considering that they have recently moved to Canada, and Navid could have never predicted the end of the relationship. The director chooses to alternate between the two on a date and fragments of Baran crying desperately in the car, aware of the suffering that is about to come.

“LA CATTIVA NOVELLA” BY FULVIO RISULEO

This animated short by Fulvio Risuleo offers an elaborate meditation on the relationship with death, religion, and the future of human relationships in the new world that is moving forward.

The film is divided into three acts, each accompanied by three songs by singer-songwriter Mirko Mancini (aka Mirkoeilcane, ed.). Although the musician’s voice is fundamental to hold the metaphorical reflection together, the metaphysical content which accompanies the descent of Jesus on Earth is completely overshadowed by the visual plotline featured in the film’s mise-en-scène. The three tones corresponding to the different acts of the short film are extremely effective: the first act, dedicated to the Black Angel, is white and cold; the second act, containing the preparation for the descent, is black and gloomy; the last act, which chronicles the old Giovanni’s funeral, is colourful and warm.

“JUNKO” BY MINSHO LIMBU

The story of Junko is the story of many Nepalese new brides, forced to live far away from their husbands who leave for India looking for a job.

Minsho Limbu decides to chronicle, with echoes of Beckett, the young woman’s wait for her Godot, who may never return home.

The directing is elegant and subtle, the camera lingers on Junko’s microcosm, accompanying her in the realisation of her future solitude, as it was for her mother and for the women of previous generations. Limbu studies every shot in detail, as the production design remains essential and functional to what is being told; in this way, the story almost seems to tell itself in front of the lens. The film is an example of great storytelling, it leaves no questions unanswered and chronicles, without pity and sentimentalism, a cross-section of the cultural life in Nepal.

“NEON MEETS ARGON” BY JAMES DOHERTY

The whole problem of life, then, is this: how to break out of one’s own loneliness, how to communicate with others. Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living: Diaries.

Immersed in a blaze of colours, an Hephaestus with an Irish accent accepts a young apprentice into his peculiar neon sign factory. Alienated by the community and unfamiliar with social relations because of his prolonged isolation, the old craftsman’s neon light turns on thanks to the arrival of a friendly individual who bursts into his dull daily routine. The two lost souls struggle to communicate, but the barriers are broken down by the need of finding themselves through one another.

“BABATOURA” BY GUILLAUME COLLIN

Making the most of a frantic style of directing which chases after the characters’ dialogues through fast-paced, back-and-forth exchanges, the short film by Guillaume Collin describes the delicate balance of a Canadian family, gathered for dinner.

Many secrets and fears grip the heart of Benoit, worried that his family will not accept the illegitimate son which his partner carries in her womb. The mise-en-scene helps to understand the nature of each of the diners seated around the table, and simultaneously displays their reaction to the shocking news that destroys the principles of a traditional family, thus measuring the extent of their love for one another.

“LA NOTTE BRUCIA” BY ANGELICA GALLO

Riding the (overlong) wave of crime stories set in the outskirts of Rome, a theme and a leitmotif which have oversaturated Italian cinema in the last few years, director Angelica Gallo condemns an environment in which teenagers find no way to emerge as individuals and as members of society, other than associating themselves with criminals. The presence of Marcello Fonte e Aniello Arena enriches a genre short film which depicts teenagers living on the street like stray dogs, working in packs to survive, but ready to betray one another in the name of a god who knows no morals: money.

“AIN’T NO MERCY FOR RABBITS” DI ALIZA BRUGGER

Director Aliza Brugger presents in competition an all-female western film that revolutionises the genre as it has traditionally been imagined, by reinventing the woman’s role: no more a defenseless creature, incapable of providing for herself in an arid and treacherous environment, like that of the desert. Indeed, the small Ronan lives with her ailing grandmother in a hostile environment, far away from any kind of civilization and from natural resources. They are surrounded by a rocky horizon, but no cowboy comes galloping to their rescue. “You gonna be the wolf or the rabbit?”: this is the question that runs through the mind of the young protagonist who, inspired by her grandmother’s teachings, fights against the fear of not being able to survive. Knowing that she can only rely on her abilities, the young Ronan learns to ride, a symbol of independence and freedom.

“ANOTHER BRICK ON THE WALL” BY ZHANG NAN

Article by Alessandro Pomati

Translated by Elena Soldà

In 1977 in China, a few months after the fall of Mao Tse-tung and the subsequent reassembly of the Communist Party of China, a valley not far from the city-prefecture of Tangshan, in the province of Hebei, is submerged in order to create an artificial dam that can supply water to the nearby big city. Underwater, however, not only the houses and shops that have been cleared run out, but also an entire stretch of the Great Wall, the monument that more than any other, perhaps, characterizes China in the world. Forty years after the construction of the dam, some local inhabitants, noting the misery of the conditions of a part of the wall on the surrounding hills, decide to put on a restoration operation to give new prestige to the millenary monument.

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“LOS PLEBES” BY EDUARDO GIRALT ED EMMANUEL MASSU’

Article by Luca Delpiano

Translated by Lorenzo Papa

Los plebes, the documentary presented in TFF’s “The rooms of Rol” section, dives into the intimacy of young millennial sicarios who roam Sinaloa, Mexico, at the service of drug traffickers, showing their passions and hopes for the future. And, by dwelling on these budding assassins’ use of social media to recount their double lives, the story tries to question the media and offers a profound reflection on death.

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“PIANO LESSONS” BY ANTONGIULIO PANIZZI

Article by Sara Longo

Translated by Alexandra Oancea

Piano Lessons is a moving experience, a whirling swirl of emotion, which finds in the documentary cinema its preferred medium to blow out. It is about the almost unknown story of German Diez Nieto, musician and virtuoso concert pianist, who abandoned the stage to devote himself exclusively to teaching music.

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“JANE PAR CHARLOTTE” BY CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG

Article by Lisa Cortopassi

Translated by Federica Maria Briglia

«Filming you with the camera is just an excuse to watch you», says Gainsbourg Birkin, with a sweet and quiet tone, during one of the first scenes of Jane Par Charlotte. The movie premiered at the 74th edition of Cannes Film Festival and was proposed again at the TFF39 in the “Surprise” section. It immediately crosses the cold boundaries of the biographic documentary, taking the form of an intimate and very lively conversation between mother and daughter. There lies the hiatus between these two identities which, like the hiatus between biography and autobiography, becomes more and more ephemeral, until it involves also Joe, Charlotte’s youngest daughter.

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“COMING HOME IN THE DARK” BY JAMES ASHCROFT

Article by Enrico Nicolosi

Translated by Martina Rosso

“Rol’s room”, a parallel section of TFF39 dedicated to genre cinema, opens with Coming home in the dark, which warns the viewer right from the start. The Hoaganraad family, on a trip to an isolated stretch of New Zealand coastline, comes across two mysterious vagrants and the doubt immediately arises: has this encounter been meticulously planned or is it nothing more than a cruel twist of fate?

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“YEAST” BY CYOP&KAF

Article by Ada Turco

Translated by Gianluca Zogno

Naples-based street art duo Cyop&Kaf are back in theatres with a new documentary, following their 2013 critically acclaimed The Secret (2013), which was presented during Torino Film Festival’s 31st edition. Their new film, Yeast, is the result of a twenty-year-old reflection. Using their camera to follow a summer camp, a theatre laboratory inside of a museum and a judo dojo, the two directors wonder about educational practices, starting from the level of the student-teacher relationship.

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“RIEN À FOUTRE” BY JULIE LECOUSTRE AND EMMANUEL MARRE

Article by Laura Anania

Translated by Elèna Bellino

Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre present their first long feature film out of competition, a story that moves along a double track: the almost documentary-like representation of low-cost airline flight attendants and the main character’s introspective analysis, as she is unable to work through her grief. 

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“ITALIA, IL FUOCO E LA CENERE” BY OLIVIER BOHLER AND CÉLINE GAILLEURD

Article by Alice Ferro

Translated by Mirko Giumentaro

Italia, il fuoco e la cenere is a poetic and oneiric journey through the divas, ghosts, lights, and shadows of Italian silent cinema. It explores its most material essence, it brings its lantern closer to the flesh, the bodies, the bare shoulders in the half-light, the penetrating gazes, the feverish convulsions of the divas. The erotic component is central: cinema made the prudes tremble, in the darkened rooms it allowed women and men to blend. The cinematic exploration becomes a historical exploration and paints the reality of a country in constant transformation, from the pompous and resplendent scenes to the decadence and abyss of fascism that are inexorably approaching.

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“GROSSE FREIHEIT” BY SEBASTIAN MEISE

Article by Giulia Seccia

Translated by Elena Soldà

A match that lights up in complete darkness. This is the symbol on which Grosse Freiheit / Great Freedom, a film directed by Sebastian Meise in competition at the Torino Film Festival stands. It won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes, and it will be presented by Austria as an Oscar candidate 2022.

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“BLOOD ON THE CROWN” BY DAVIDE FERRARIO

Article by Marco Ghironi

Translated by Francesca Schiavello

June 7th, 1919: the small nation of Malta refuses to be dominated again by the British Empire, reaffirming the desire for independence. And among the city’s ravines, the roofs of the houses and the squares of the island off the coast of Sicily, blood begins to flow when the British commence firing and begin to impose their law.

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“ALONERS” BY HONG SEONG-EUN

Article by Valentina Velardi

Translated by Mattia Prelle

Jina (Geong Seung-yeon), an exemplary employee in a credit card company’s call centre, is a bashful and reserved girl, strictly attached to her habits and to the peaceful succession of places and acts that mark her days, which she divides between her little apartment and the workplace.

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“TASTE” BY LÊ BAO

Article by Annaisa Quarto

Translated by Francesca Luna Lombardo

Premiered in the Encounters section of the last Berlinale, where it won the Special Jury Prize, Taste, the first feature film by Vietnamese director Lê Bao arrives at TFF39 in the Out-of-Competition/TFLAB section.

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“LA NOTTE PIù LUNGA DELL’ANNO” BY SIMONE ALEANDRI

Article by Giulia Seccia

Translated by Lorenzo Papa

“You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”
Samuel Beckett


In Potenza, during the night of the winter solstice – the longest night of the year – a woman is dissatisfied with her job, three boys are trying to escape adulthood, a corrupt politician is attempting to achieve some sort of salvation, and the heart of a young boy gets broken. These are the stories that Simone Aleandri’s film, out of competition at the Turin Film Festival, weaves together; stories of characters in crisis, unstable, different stories that converge, however, in the same place: a gas station, the place where the film begins.

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“EL PLANETA” BY AMALIA ULMAN

Article by Anna Quarto

Translated by Francesca Schiavello

Multidisciplinary artist Amalia Ulman debuted in competition at TTF 39 with her first feature film “El planeta”, already presented at the 2021 Sundance Festival. The micro-budget and a small crew of five make this debut an experiment that evokes the independent American cinema of the 1990s.

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“LUZ VIAJE OSCURO” BY TIN DIRDAMAL, EVA CADENA

Article by Niccolò Buttigliero

Translated by Mattia Prelle

A 64 minutes and 1.700 kilometers long train trip that swings between light and darkness, plumbing a metaphysical Vietnam. It moves through the 17th parallel – the most bombed place in the world – and the Ruc settlement, a population who fans the holy fire whose extinction would cause the extinction of the world too.

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