Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio
Photos and Video
Crowned the most popular Italian documentary this year, The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio tells story of how filmmaker Agostino Ferrente and Avion Travel musician Mario Tronco put together an orchestra of 30 foreign musicians playing 15 unrelated instruments-a miracle in itself. The two Italians are both residents of the Piazza Vittorio neighborhood, a stone's throw away from Rome's Termini station. This old area is populated by some 60 ethnic groups and has more foreign residents than Italians. With the aim of saving the glorious old Apollo Theater from the threat of being turned into a bingo parlor, Tronco and Ferrente created a neighborhood committee called the Apollo 11. Their first goal was to re-open the Apollo as a multi-media, multi-ethnic theater; their second was to find musicians from the four corners of the globe to play in an orchestra. Ironic humor is the keynote that holds their five-year saga together, as they struggle against ever-new obstacles, but ultimately succeed in creating this astounding musical group, and learn the stories of musicians from Tunisia, India, Africa, Cuba and beyond in the process. This is a rousing call to arms for fans of world music, and for all those who believe in the mini-miracles of neighborhood cultural initiatives.
Director's Statement Collapse
When I was at school, I kept hearing the story about all roads leading to Rome and I always thought that it was just a saying, a product of legends, anachronistic. Perhaps because I wasn't born in Rome and before coming to live here I had already visited big cities where the "racial mix" had already been consolidated for years. Or perhaps because as a good ol' southern boy, I can boast about a myriad of relatives who emigrated around the world but none of which chose Rome as a destination, maybe because they considered it too southern, or rather, not northern enough.
But after my fair share of moving around, I "immigrated" to Rome and was
immediately attracted by a neighbourhood full of foreigners where some of the older southern Italian immigrants who did decide to move to the capital, feel threatened by the competition of the new arrivals. I think the world has been spinning like this for a long time. So, I changed my mind and discovered how much truth there was in that old proverb.
Because today Rome may not be the preferred choice of destination but it is certainly a thoroughfare to northern Europe where those who decide to leave their homelandshope to find a warmer welcome. This isn't so much because Italians are racists, but perhaps because Italians still have to get used to this new role reversal, where they aren't immigrants in search of a welcoming country, but citizens of a host country.This may be the reason why the story told in the film is new and surprising. It shows how even here in Italy an immigrant can see his dream of earning a living with his own skills come true and not have to get by with jobs that Italians are usually too snobbish about doing.
This is what happened with our musicians and I must say that meeting each one of them was an extraordinary encounter with a person that even alone, with his or her personal story, could have become the star of the film.
As I counted them, I discovered that along the way, we had met over thirty
musicians, too many for "just" one film… And there were as many instruments to
choose from in order to complete the orchestra. This is what the film is all about: an orchestration of many individual stories that crossed each other thanks to music.
I have to confess that I am not a historian of music like many other directors who
make "musicals". For this reason, it was much easier not to resist the temptation of telling the musician's story as people first and musicians second. I did this by
entering into their daily lives trying to evoke the universe of memories that each one of them carries in their hearts, but at the same time highlighting their current realities and how they feel about being Italian, or rather Roman, citizens without ever having to put aside their origins but rather giving their origins more value thanks to music.
At one point, when I saw the images that I had shot, I thought that perhaps it would be better to tell the stories of people who left their homelands to seek their fortune elsewhere, concentrating on the more dramatic aspects such as painful separations, sacrifices, denied rights, and racism. The stories that usually have a bad ending. It's what everyone expects.
But I found myself witness to and participant of a story about immigration that, in
spite of everything… has a happy ending, a very happy ending! And maybe - I told
myself - in these times of unrest, it might be important to tell a story like the one of the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio: a story with a happy ending. A true story.
Film Information Collapse
[ORCHE] | 2006 | 93 | Documentary Feature
Foreign Title: (L' Orchestre di Piazza Vittorio)
Premiere: North American
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About the Director(s)Collapse
Born in 1971, AGOSTINO FERRENTE was editor and coordinator for various newspapers and television stations for Italian communities abroad before becoming a filmmaker. He first achieved recognition at international film festivals with his short films Poco più della metà di zero (1993) and Opinioni di un pirla (1994). His film company produced two documentaries which he co-directed, Intervista a mia madre (1999) and Il film di Mario (1999-2001); both films received many awards. In 2001, along with a dozen accomplices, he founded the group Apollo 11 in Rome, which has since become one of the most active centers of cultural productions in the city. He is currently working on the web-documentary Appunti sull'amore in co-direction with Giovanni Piperno. He is a member of the Accademia del Cinema Italiano.