IT WAS TOMORROW (2017)
Country: Italy / Uk | Year: 2018 | Runtime: 52'
Format: Bluray, Dvd, File HD
Language: Italian, Arabic
Subtitles: Italian, English
Genre: Documentary, animation
Director: Alexandra D'Onofrio
Animation Facilitator: Francesca Cogni
Editing video: Antonio Augugliaro
Soundtrack: Dissòi Lógoi
Production: Drama and Anthropology at the University of Manchester
Festival: Impact docs awards, Ethnocineca, Dal Nilo al Naviglio: storie di vita tra Egitto e Italia
The life we end up living is only one amongst many other possibilities. When we wonder who we are, where we come from and where we are going, we are also asking ourselves who would we be and what would have happened if only life had taken a di erent route. Our life stories are re-crafted in the continuous dialogue between reality and possibility. Especially during moments of crisis, like when we nd ourselves at a crossroads, and we need to choose which way to go, our imagined lives take hold of us again and question us. Art and creativity can help us retrace their existence.
Ali, Mahmoud and Mohamed are three Egyptian men who lived in Italy without documents for almost ten years. Suddenly thanks to an amnesty they nally manage to legalise their status and their future is re-inhabited by possibilities. As part of their need to rediscover their dreams and hopes they decide to take the journey back to the rst places of arrival, where they disembarked from the boats that had brought them as teenagers to Italy after crossing the Mediterranean. The lm follows them back to the emblematic places of the past, where memories are intertwined with fantasies about what could be, or could have been, their possible new life. Collaborative documentary lmmaking is accompanied by creative narrative processes such as theatre, storytelling, photography and participatory animation.
Migration is one of the most topical themes of our times, represented and discussed in the media on a daily basis through images and words that often have little relationship to the personal experiences of the protagonists. In fact, what emerges from the stories of the people directly involved are complexities and nuances that reveal the dilemmas, desires and struggles of the people involved in the phenomenon we call migration.
I first met Ali, Mohamed and Mahmoud in 2010 when they came to participate in a theatre forum project which concluded by bringing on stage the di culties experienced by those who live in Italy without legal papers. When we decided in 2012 to embark on a practice-based research project that would explore more in depth these people’s personal stories, an amnesty decreed by the Italian government changed the stories they used to tell themselves regarding their life in Italy; suddenly their future was re lled with hope, with new possibilities and with long-cherished dreams. For almost two years I engaged Ali, Mohamed and Mahmoud in creative processes in order to explore their memories and their imagination of the future, of what could be, or could have been if things had gone di erently in their lives.
We experimented with theatre, storytelling, photography, documentary lmmaking and animation. Memory and more recently reverie and imagination have become central to ethnographic practice, but the problem that anthropologists face when carrying out this type of eldwork is how to bring fantasies and events of people’s past into life, when there is no independent access to people’s thoughts and past experiences.
It was through the process of tracing their recollections by painting on photographs which recalled their experiences, that my research participants became my co- researchers. They made decisions over what stories to tell and how to tell them, molding them imaginatively thanks to the poetic possibilities o ered by the theatre improvisations and the animation technique. The experimentation of using these creative processes as part of the research and at a later stage to include them into the documentary, has also opened the way to trace and identify the forms and qualities that imaginative possibilities, within the process of remembering, take in people’s experiences. Not only can animation be useful in the process of memory and knowledge making but provides an interesting aesthetic quality that is faithful to the evanescent and at times unsettling character of memories.
Cinema for us, is not just entertainment, but also an action capable of inspiring new aesthetic forms and creating common imaginaries that are made up of concrete actions too. This is the reason that motivated us to distribute “It Was Tomorrow” by Alexandra D’Onofrio. As it happened with other previous experiences with “On the Bride’s Side” and “For a Son”, we felt that this documentary has the potential to impact on real life before playing out on the screen. Through theatre, storytelling and animation workshops, which played a crucial role in the making of the participatory and experimental documentary “It Was Tomorrow”, the director Alexandra D’Onofrio encourages the three protagonists to relate to the other participants, facilitating the formation of new relationships which consequently in uence the social fabric that surrounds them. The distribution too will proceed in this direction, o ering the possibility of combining the screenings with workshops of: participatory media (photography, animation, video, sound), storytelling and active listening, theatre of the oppressed, image theatre and improvisation.
Italian and Greek with a foot in England, Alexandra D’Onofrio is a visual anthropologist and a director. In the past few years she has been using documentary lmmaking, animation, theatre and storytelling as collaborative methods of research on the topics of migration. In her social and cultural work on the ground, she applied similar creative methods in order to create social contexts to foster new encounters and the sharing of stories, by co- founding in Milan the Fandema community theatre group, the Italian language school for newcomers Asnada, and the storytelling project on motherhood MAdRI. “It Was Tomorrow” is her last lm produced as part of her PhD in “Anthropology, Media and Performance” at the University of Manchester (UK).
2017 It Was Tomorrow