Umbria in Celluloide

by Emilio Seri
Italia, 2020, 8’

International title: My Cyclothymic Brother
Director and editor: EMILIO SERI
Cinematographer: MARCO DEL BUONO
Produced in collaboration with DROMO STUDIO


Cyclothymic disorder indicates in psychiatry an alternation between periods of depression and mania and is considered a milder form of bipolar disorder. My uncle suffered from it and in this interview/narration my father reflects on growing up with a brother with a mental illness, retracing the highlights of their relationship, from childhood to the present, after my uncle’s death due to cancer. Their story intertwines with Italy’s social and medical history: in fact, my uncle was institutionalized a decade before asylums closed, an event that prompted a revolution in psychiatric treatment. With simple words my father offers a sincere testimony, remembering sacrifices, regrets, satisfactions and an indissoluble bond.


The project emerged as a response to a challenge launched on Sundance Co//ab, the Sundance Institute’s online platform, that asked to interview a family member about something (a person, a relationship, an event) in their past that had had a profound impact on their life. So I invited my father to retrace the relationship with his brother, my uncle. When I was little I started noticing that people whispered behind my uncle’s back and sometimes mocked him. For a reason unknown to me at the time, they considered him different from them although he seemed fairly normal to me: or at least as normal as any human being can be. In truth, my uncle suffered from a cyclothymic disorder that kept him trapped in an endless cycle of great excitement and depression. Since then I have kept asking myself if the demarcation between Sanity and Insanity is univocal and immutable or if it changes through time and culture. Through my father’s glances, gestures, silences and words I wanted to talk about mental illness from a specific and personal point of view and never anonymous because as Franco Basaglia said: “…I am not interested in the illness but in the one who is ill…I am interested in myself”. I hope that my father’s testimony can establish a direct dialogue with the viewers: to engender a discussion, to fight prejudices, to know the person behind the diagnosis, to include and not exclude.


Emilio Seri è un regista e sceneggiatore italoamericano. Si laurea con lode in Letteratura, Musica e Spettacolo presso l’Università “La Sapienza” di Roma con una tesi sul rapporto tra parola e immagine nel cinema di Josef Von Sternberg. Allo stesso tempo realizza i primi cortometraggi, tra i quali un video per il programma TOP5 in onda su Rai5. Nel 2016 consegue a pieni voti un MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Regia e Sceneggiatura presso il City College di New York dove riceve la borsa di studio per il merito scolastico “Bert Saperstein Communication Scholarship”. La sua tesi di specialistica, un cortometraggio di fantascienza intitolato “Astral Migrant”, viene selezionato come semifinalista agli Student Academy Awards 2016 e proiettato in vari festival internazionali. Attualmente insegna ripresa e montaggio video presso l’Istituto Italiano Design di Perugia e lavora come regista e sound designer freelance mentre sviluppa la sceneggiatura del suo primo lungometraggio.