Stefano Savona’s Samouni Road heading to the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight
by Camillo De Marco
- The documentary, which features animations by Simone Massi, tells the story of a family from Gaza that fell victim to the Gaza War in 2009
Another representative of Italy in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is a film by Stefano Savona that features animations by Simone Massi, Samouni Road [+see also:
interview: Stefano Savona
film profile], produced by Dugong Films, Picofilms and Alter Ego Production, together with Rai Cinema, in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma and ARTE France Unité Société et Culture.
“In the aftermath of the war in Gaza,” explains the director, “I met people who told me, extraordinarily calmly, of the dramatic events that they had barely just lived through. I realised that in order to do them justice, I couldn’t make do with simply observing the tragedy: the Samouni family deserved to have their story told in its entirety.” In the film, ever since she returned to her neighbourhood, little Amal has only been able to remember one huge tree, which is no longer there. It was a sycamore that she and her siblings used to climb. Then the war broke out. Amal and her siblings lost everything. They are children of the Samouni family, farmers who live on the outskirts of Gaza City. A year has passed since they buried their dead. Now they must start to look to the future once again, rebuilding their houses, their neighbourhood and their memories. On the cusp of memory, real-life images and animations take turns to sketch out a family portrait, before, after and during the tragic events that turned their lives upside down in January 2009, when 29 members of their family were butchered during Operation Cast Lead.
A documentarian who has won a string of awards both in Italy and around the world, Stefano Savona trained as an archaeologist and anthropologist and is now based in Paris. He directed the acclaimed documentaries Notes from a Kurdish Rebel (2006), Cast Lead (2009 – Special Jury Prize in Filmmakers of the Present at Locarno), Palazzo delle Aquile (2011 – co-directed with Alessia Porto and Ester Paratore, winner of the Grand Prix at Cinéma du Réel) and Tahrir Liberation Square [+see also:
film profile] (2011 – winner of the David di Donatello and Nastro d’Argento Awards). Simone Massi, one of the most highly respected independent Italian animators who has forged a reputation on the international stage, is famous for drawing every single frame of his short films by hand. These shorts have travelled to more than 60 countries around the world, where they have picked up over 200 awards. He is also famous for being the creator of the opening sequences and posters of five editions of the Venice Film Festival.
The film’s screenplay was penned by Stefano Savona together with Léa Mysius and Penelope Bortoluzzi, the cinematography was also taken care of by Stefano Savona, the sound was entrusted to Jean Mallet and Margot Testemale, the editing to Luc Forveille, and the score to Giulia Tagliavia. The movie secured backing from Eurimages, the CNC, the Direzione Generale Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Ciclic, the Marche region - Marche Film Commission, Île de France, the Cineteca di Bologna, the Trentino Film Commission, the Lazio region, Luca Rossi for Produttori Associati and the Piano Terra Onlus Foundation. The international sales are being handled by Doc & Films International, while its French distribution has been entrusted to Jour2Fête.
(Translated from Italian)
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