It continues to attract acclaim on the film festival circuit, and now Jonas Carpignano‘s acclaimed short film, A Chjàna (The Plain) – a work that we’ve given a bit of coverage to on SA – is online in full, all 20 minutes of it.
Although it’s likely for a limited time only, so I’d strongly recommend you watch while you can, before it disappears.
Its synopsis once again reads:
After leaving his native Burkina Faso in search of a better life, Ayiva makes the perilous journey to Italy; though he finds compatriots along the way, they are unprepared for the intolerance facing immigrants in their newly-claimed home.
And while it currently exists strictly in short form, Jonas is developing it into a feature film project; recall my December post announcing it as one of 12 feature projects selected by the Sundance Institute that will begin the journey through the Sundance Lab programs, which began with its annual January Screenwriters Lab - an immersive, 5-day writers’ workshop at the Sundance Resort in Utah, that took place just before the 2012 installment of the Sundance Film Festival began in January.
The short also screened at SXSW last month, where I had the pleasure of meeting Jonas in person.
But by all accounts, I suspect that the the feature version of A Chjàna is one we’ll be talking about in another year or 2.. or 3.
Until then, I suggest first reading this statement from director Jonas, which explains his motivations and the journey he took in making the short film. I recommend you read it:
Global migrations have changed the face of present-day Italy. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea in makeshift boats, under the most dangerous conditions, thousands of Northern and Central Africans leave behind their homes and families every year and arrive in an inhospitable Italy. In the past few years, roughly 1,500 North African immigrants have found their way to Rosarno, a small town in the southern Italian region of Calabria. Here, the citrus industry is always in search of cheap labor to employ for low wages, long hours and poor working conditions. The local mafia, a branch of the ‘ndrangheta’, controls the labor market, and enforces brutal standards of 12 straight hours of work for a maximum of $30 per day. A grave consequence of these migrations and the social change that they engendered is that for the first time Italy has a “race problem” on a significant scale. As a biracial Italian-American I have always been very sensitive to the problem of race in Italy and in the US and to the difference between the two countries. Over time, I noticed that most of the black people that I encountered in Italy were either street vendors or migrant workers. There were no signs of the black middle class life that I was used to, growing up in the Bronx. The black experience in Italy is quite unique to the particular social and historical circumstances that brought blacks to Italy in the last two decades. When I came across the headline “The Revolt of Rosarno” on January 8th 2010, I knew that I had to make a film about the contemporary immigrant experience in Italy. I decided to spend the summer of 2010 between Rosarno and Foggia. I lived in cardboard villages and abandoned houses, meeting the participants in the riot, hearing their stories and collecting information about their lives. The people I met in the month and a half I spent traveling to different ghettos and camps helped me formulate the story for the film, and the situations I encountered provided me with the details for the production. As a result, I gained unprecedented access to stories and places that have never before been told or seen on film. As a student of cinema, I have always loved Italian Neorealism, and I wanted to make this film in that tradition. Instead of professional actors, the cast is made up entirely of the people that I met while living in the area, and the film is shot in the locations where these events took place. The resulting short film, A Chjàna, brings to light for the first time in a narrative form a social and political phenomenon that is novel to Italy and yet dramatically reflects the changes brought about by economic globalization and massive migrations around the world. The film’s protagonists experience these global transformations and their consequences in their everyday life: a life of racism, exploitation and oppression but also of rebellion, solidarity and friendship.
And now watch the impressive 20-minute short film below: