How did this project come about?
The film project "The dinner of souls" was developed as part of the research programs carried out by the Regional Higher Ethnographic Institute of Sardinia (ISRE), in particular on the special relationship between food and death. This connection appears clear in the tradition known in Sardinia as "Sa chena de sos mortos" (the supper of the dead) which consists in preparing, on the night between November 1stand 2nd, a complete meal characterized by "sos macarrones de sos mortos ”(the macaroni of the dead) and delicacies particularly pleasing to the dead that are meant to feed, in the belief that at night they return to their home to feast. There is a belief in some countries, in order to better show the way to the souls, a light is left lit in the window.
Tell me the story of this film.
In the fall of 2015, fortunate circumstances allowed me to meet Mrs. Pasqua Goddi, a lively ninety-year-old from Orune (a town in the province of Nuoro) who, on the occasion of the commemoration of the dead, prepares a sumptuous banquet for the dead of her family every year.
In a November setting, misty, a bit gloomy, tempered by the sharp irony of the protagonist, I was able to document that intimate family ritual, so full of meanings for those who work it and for those who assist you. Signora Pasqua appears hieratic in her ancient attitude: the kitchen is transformed into a sanctuary and the table is set in an altar. Alongside this "liturgical" climate, the theatrical potential of Signora Pasqua is manifested, which, as I said, is endowed with a wide range of ironic, amusing and biting expressions that she has wisely distilled during the filming. But these were fleeting "curtains". Soon after we find the old woman deeply understood in her role as a "medium". In reality, it was the very silences and precise gestures of Mrs. Pasqua that were the cornerstones of this filmic observation.
The effect of black and white is beautifully striking. Tell me about your (or yours) choice to make the film like this.
For me, working in the field of visual anthropology, the choice of that black and white has been rather painful. It is in fact an impoverishment of information in favor of aesthetics. I often make a joke: I didn't choose black and white, but it was wanted, indeed demanded, by the people and places described. In reality I really think that every situation, every face, every place, needs its own photographic tone.. In addition, black and white helped me to make some elements of modernity less present in the house less distracting, in this way the viewer is led to a greater concentration on the unfolding of the action. About the B / N I like to mention a reflection made by a young researcher who last spring was in the audience during the presentation of the doc at the Ethnografilm Festival in Paris, during the Q&A she told me: “I find the choice very right of black and white because this somehow becomes a metaphor for death that removes color from men and things”. I greatly appreciated this reflection and made it my own.
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