PerSo Cinema Italiano
By Flavia Montini
Italy / Colombia, 2021, 80’
Tuesday, Oct. 04, Zenith Cinema, Via Benedetto Bonfigli 5, 7 p.m.
Original title: Los Zuluagas
Director: Flavia Montini
With: Juan Camilo Zuluaga Tordecilla and with Ana Maria Zuluaga Tordecilla, Esteban Zuluaga Cinquina, Bernardo Gutierrez Zuluaga, Amparo Del Carmen Tordecilla, Clara Ines Parra Aguilar, Valentina Zuluaga Parra, Miguel Fernando Zuluaga Parra
Subject: Flavia Montini, Juan Camilo Zuluaga Tordecilla
Screenplay: Flavia Montini, Juan Camilo Zuluaga Tordecilla, Anita Otto
Creative Production: Luca Ricciardi
Editing: Enzo Pompeo AMC
Cinematography: Marco Pasquini
Original music: Økapi – Filippo E. Paolini
Sound Editing: Simone Altana, Riccardo Spagnol
Mix: Marco Falloni
Editing consultancy: Ilaria Fraioli
Executive Production: Valeria Adilardi
Produced by: Valeria Adilardi, Luca Ricciardi, Laura Romano, Mauro Vicentini
Camilo, 35, son of a Colombian guerrillas couple, returns to his country after 25 years of exile in Italy. In an attempt to understand his parents’ radical choices, he dives into the family archive. Extraordinary amateur films and private writings reveal never-quenched conflicts and painful memories. Those of a father, a revolutionary commander, who sacrificed everything in the name of political struggle but saw his dream of justice fade away. Those of a son, raised in the shadow of a charismatic but cumbersome man, unable to accommodate the needs of a child. Those of a mother. A ghost that has agitated Camilo’s nights since he was 5 years old. A unique opportunity to bring to life an impossible dialogue, long desired but never really happening.
When I met Camilo, I was immediately struck by his urgency to tell his story, to be heard. It was not a ready-made story, but on the contrary, in each of our meetings, Camilo chose different words to describe the same episode, he enriched it with new details and nuances, which had been hidden the previous time. Those meetings had become the place where distant memories, confused and fragmented, found a protected space to emerge, where wounds kept hidden for a lifetime could be reopened.
On the basis of mutual trust, Camilo decided to entrust me with his story and to hand over to me the entire family archive: his diaries, his father’s autobiography, his mother’s portrait, photographs and newspaper clippings… but above all dozens and dozens of videos in which, surprisingly, images of private life alternated with scenes of political militancy and guerrilla warfare in Colombia, the legacy of a father, commander of a revolutionary army and amateur filmmaker.
Immersing myself in the archive was an intimate experience, a journey that I made with care, delicacy and empathy. I felt an enormous responsibility. Through these materials, I had access to the most private space of a family: I watched the children grow up and I tried to capture in their looks and movements the traces of a disappeared mother; I tried to put myself in the shoes of a father, crushed by the weight of his own choices and committed to the effort of keeping everyone together. The images of militancy, on the other hand, were an unprecedented and privileged access to the world of guerrilla warfare, which offered me a view capable of going beyond the rhetoric of revolution. Those who had shot those images had observed the world around them with naturalness and complicity, revealing the most everyday and ordinary aspects of the guerrillas’ lives, often boys and girls little more than adolescents, giving back an affectionate, sometimes joyful and ironic look at that reality. The autobiographical writings of Camilo and Bernardo further enriched the puzzle, offering a double reading of the events. In that extraordinary mass of images and words, I found a profound feeling of lack and suffering, but at the same time a desire for life and lightness. The archives could have told countless stories, because, as Bernardo writes, “History has as many versions as there are men who have lived it or who tell it”. In these words, I chose the narrative key for the film: Los Zuluagas would have told the story of the family by giving voice to the “version” of Camilo, a man at that moment hostage to his own past, crushed by the fear of betraying the expectations of his parents.
The richness of the materials, different and complementary in format and origin, suggested to me the articulation of the story as the search for a dialogue – even if now impossible – between a son and his father. A dialogue capable of forcing the limits of time and moving between present and past, thus allowing Camilo to recompose the fragments of memories and let him find those desired and loved parents he felt he had lost in the folds of History.
Gradually I began to read those events so distant from me, that family history so particular and unique, with other lenses. I felt free to explore the materials in the archives, taking them out of their original contexts, in order to make a meaningful story emerge from those memories from an emotional, personal and historical point of view. By telling the story of the Zuluaga family, I was able to describe the complexity of the relationship between parents and children, the difficulty of confronting oneself, the need to love and to know how to be loved.
Flavia Montini (1983), laureata in Scienze Politiche e Relazioni Internazionali, ha frequentato il Laboratorio di Cinema Documentario presso la Scuola d’arte cinematografica G. Volontè di Roma.
È regista e aiuto regia in film documentari e collabora inoltre con associazioni del Terzo Settore, realizzando progetti di storytelling, laboratori di videopartecipativo, webdocumentari e attività di valorizzazione del patrimonio storico e della memoria collettiva.
Los Zuluagas è il suo primo lungometraggio.
In classe: alunni e insegnanti raccontano (2019)
Una scuola aperta all’adozione (2018)
Magliana Viva (2016)
In piazza a Pietralata (2016)
Intorno alla balena (2016)
Come un castello (2014)
Sotto l’argine (2013)
87 ore di C. Quatriglio (2015)
Se avessi le parole (2015)
Quasi eroi (2015)
Miracolo indiano (2016) di G. Piperno