France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal
Living in the region had become very difficult and the Ughettos dream of a better life abroad.
Legend has it that Luigi Ughetto crossed the Alps starting a new life in France, thus changing the destiny of his beloved family forever.
His grandson travels back in time revisiting their history.
In the cemetery, I found neither the grave of my grandfather Luigi, nor that of my grandmother Cesira ... What happened? The witnesses of that Italian period (the 1870s) have disappeared, the roofs of the houses have collapsed on their past as farmers; the trees have grown over their life as coalminers; nothing remains.
The gift of this film was the discovery of Nuto Revelli's book, “The World of the Vanquished”. This Italian sociologist recorded the testimonies of peasants of the same age as my grandparents and who lived in the same area of Piedmont. Poignant testimonies about hunger, misery, wars ...
In Ughettera, I collected all the objects that made their daily life, charcoal, broccoli, chestnuts...
Back in my studio, with everything I gleaned there, I composed a decor. Broccoli became a tree, charcoal became a mountain, sugar became a brick ... In the heart of my workshop, with Jean-Marc Ogier and his team, we reconstructed this vanished world.
We remember our father, our mother, a little of our grandparents, but beyond that not much: it's darkness, it's the big story.
What interested me was to go back in time to link intimate memory and historical evocation.
Today, I have found behind my name the chronicle of a family among hundreds of others. To write this story, I was inspired by reality. The reality of the life of a part of my family from the Italian Piedmont. I delved into my own memory, then into those of my cousins, my brothers, and sisters. Between war and migration, between birth and death, a story emerged. Beyond the sorrow of a personal story, I discovered an astonishing journey, told in the film.
Luigi, my grandfather ... I would have liked to know him, but I did not. But my grandmother Cesira, I knew her ... I was twelve years old when she died, I called her "Granny". For me, Grandma was born like that, next to the gas stove, dressed in black, with her hands in the polenta. She wanted to be more French than the French, so I never heard her speaking Italian. From the morning on she made the kitchen sing, with polenta with milk, polenta and rabbit stew at noon and polenta in the oven in the evening. And then I realised that before being called "Granny", my grandmother was Cesira, that she had been young and beautiful, that she had worn colours, that she had been desired and loved.
In the VIVEMENT LUNDI! workshops in Rennes, we built the characters: Luigi, Cesira, Vincent my father and the many dolls that accompany them. Cesira became the 23 cm high figurine that we see in the film. As I asked her questions, she told me her story, her life in Italy, her meeting with Luigi, the aborted trip to America, why France?
The project was proposed, developed, and supported by Alexandre Cornu, producer of the Films du Tambour de Soie in Marseille, with whom I had already directed my previous film JASMINE. With the scriptwriter Alexis Galmot, who took over from Anne Paschetta, with whom I had developed the most documented part, we adapted the story, found a plot, adjusted the scenes, and cut them into sequences:
Luigi, Cesira, my father, all were in place, I now had to integrate myself into this story ... The theme that interested me was the transmission from hand to hand. My grandfather's hands passed on their knowledge to my father's hands, my father's hands in turn passed on their knowledge to me, and today I remember it, so I had to bear witness. The hand, my hand, had to become a character, a character that acts on this world and in the workshop, the hand works, questions and intervenes.
Between COVID confinement and snowstorm, the film was largely shot in Beaumont-les-Valence in the studios of Foliascope, it began in January 2020 and was completed on 31 July 2021.
What interested me in this film was to show people at work, people who have built our infrastructure in France: tunnels, roads, bridges, dams, people who without hiding remain totally invisible. I have illuminated this story that begins with "I" and very quickly becomes "we". Whether we are Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian, Vietnamese or North African, the past is in our DNA.
Echoing today, I wanted to bear witness to "how, at that time, we welcomed all foreigners".
I have been working on this film for nine years now and I love all the images. It's a unique film where everyone contributed their knowledge, their skills, their memory. A teamwork, a long and beautiful common adventure where we all got together, producers, animators, technicians coming from all over Europe to present you this beautiful, this magnificent gift.
A film of testimony, but above all, a film of love.
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Alain Ughetto
Written by: Alain Ughetto
Main Producer: Alexandre Cornu
Cinematography: Fabien Drouet, Sara Sponga
Editing: Denis Leborgne
Production Design: Jean-Marc Ogier
Original Score: Nicola Piovani
Animation: Marjolaine Parot, Elie Chapuis, Chaïtane Conversat, Luis Ignacio De Marco, Cyril Maddalena
Nominations and Awards
- European Animated Feature Film 2022