CINEMA AND SELF-NARRATION IN NAKO
by Stefania Muresu
Participatory Video (PV) Workshops and the use of participatory methods in film production represent an effective course of action to provide some migrants with the opportunity of expression and narration of their own condition. Such methods contribute to the creation of new and diverse imaginations through the use of the audiovisual language, and, in such a way, affording a voice to those who have little representation in the public sphere or who are represented through stereotypes created by others.
The participatory cinema experience carried out at the former farmhouse “Donedda”, in the territory of Sarule, province of Nuoro, aimed at providing a fresh outlook to the conditions of migrants through the creative process of film production based on the spontaneity of contents and the absence of direction from researchers/filmmakers, an activity based on free participation and on free choice of narratives.
Surrounded by a Mediterranean landscape and agricultural land, the center is located at the foot of Mount Gonare and about ten km from the town of Sarule. The reception center, an agricultural and livestock farmhouse, is part of the agro-pastoral and rural areas of central Sardinia, set in a situation of geographical and social isolation, which makes it difficult to have opportunities for interaction and exchange between the guests and the surrounding communities
The protagonists of the Laboratory are a group of migrants who, being in a particular social context, make up a “temporary” community. The contents collected throughout the course of meetings, exchanges, shooting and visits consist of personal stories, conversational interviews and of both individual and collective creative expressions of cultural concepts.
The circular meetings, which were held under a large oak tree, sitting on granite benches while sheep, donkeys and horses were grazing nearby, concerned the introduction to the use of the camera, trials of shooting and mutual interviews, activities on the geographical maps of the African and European continents, storyboards and drawings in order to understand how and why to tell a story with pictures.
The geographic isolation, the individual experiences and at the same time the daily life lived and perceived around a rural environment (the forest), have strongly influenced the production of the movie contents proposed by the participants for the PV workshop.
The results were unexpected and the enthusiasm and the spirit of initiative of all members of the group were key to realizing the two stories told through video (Laboureur et ses enfants, Nabiaulu), in a spontaneous and creative manner, with contents of deep symbolic meanings and a sense of belonging to their own lived experience which is emotionally transposed in the host territory, with a final result of self-narrative centered on the issue of agricultural labor and land.
Nako, “field, vegetable garden” in Mandinke, comes within the VP workshop when the filmic fiction requires reflection and the need to convey a deep message on the subjective condition of the young participants: working the land is a treasure, it’s survival and at the same time it’s a symbol of life, future and family. A sprout planted as scenography of a storyboard, on a fertile piece of land in central Sardinia, has transformed the imagined reality into Nako, a real vegetable garden to look after and to grow in the midst of the monotony of waiting, a piece of land to water at dawn and sunset while waiting for the land to give its fruits, a recognition and the documents, an opportunity to live with dignity.
Nako has become the thread that leads from one story to another. The protagonists meet on the land, a real and at the same time symbolic space where the participants have put the focus of their observation.
The experience of Nako shows how Participatory Video can be an effective tool of direct expression and communication. The spontaneous interpretation of the participants, something that can be conveyed only in a visual manner, gives back a full cinematographic intensity of the images and an audiovisual language that stems from a shared and original process of self-narration.
However, if the written text states, the image is subject to interpretation. Therefore it becomes necessary to ask what are the messages that Nako conveys and in what manner they can be interpreted. In which manner can such images talk about migration?