Credits:Filmed in Filignano, Molise, Italy. Paris, Drancy, France. Glasgow, Scotland Cinematography Seamus McGarvey Funded by Cultural Documents and the Visual Effect Research Lab, University of Dundee Poem courtesy of Pasquale Iannone Editore 9’ HD, Sound (2013)
Valentina Bonizzi’s (2013) film Il Gancio is a lyrical meditation on poignant vulnerability of adolescence and the complex identities of generations experiencing diaspora. The film features a poem being read by six Italian teenagers. The poem titled “Canzune d’Atre Tiempe,” has a line which reads “and so I wonder lost, but do not bend,” succinctly capturing the bravado, honesty, and dogged determination of youth that age. Yet, a crucial aspect of the film is also that the families of all the teens originate in the same village in which the particular dialect of the poem originated. The speakers’ youth is a crucial part of the work, and the filmmaker looks to create intergenerational connections through the reading of the poem, which while ensconced in an old dialect, has new resonance in the voices and different foreign accents of these subjects.
The young girls and boys face the camera silently, holding static poses in medium shots that linger for several seconds. They blink, and their eyes shift, but otherwise they stay quite still, and in that stillness, like a forest creature that is caught mid-stride, swaying a little but holding the gaze of the camera’s eye, they become subjects endowed with agency and presence. In the words of the poem’s narrator, they insist that they will survive, “because I have still have you, my blessed love.” The “you”, one gathers is whatever love object the narrator has found, and by extension, whatever object these teenagers will eventually discover. Their capacity to find this object comes to the surface here through Bonizzi’s deft grasp of the value of the slow, contemplative gaze.
Through the still, steady images that feature some small, fugitive movement—a car in the distance, a slowly wafting curtain—Bonizzi draws the viewer into this poetic tribute to that moment in youthful exuberance when the belief in love supersedes most other concerns, which is shown to be similar to similar beliefs of a preceding generation.
Text by Seph Rodney