PerSo Cinema Italiano
By Jacopo Quadri
Italia, 2020, 62’
Saturday 9th october PostModernissimo – 17.45
Director: Jacopo Quadri
Sound: Daniela Bassani Nicolò Tettamanti
Music: Valerio Vigliar
Photography: Greta De Lazzaris
Montaggio: Jacopo Quadri
Production, distribution for Italy: Ubulibri
In collaboration with: Rai Cinema
International distribution: Taskovski films
More than eighty years ago a girl was born into a poor farming family in Tuscany, and named Ultimina—“the last one”—though in fact she was followed by a younger sister, Finis. Ultimina is an animated and expressive storyteller. She shows some old photos and reminisces about how tough her life has been. In winter the children would have to herd sheep in the bitter cold. Later, it was her brother who got to decide who she could dance with. She got married young. Her husband drank and her father-in-law hit her. Ultimina is still angry about how the men made all the rules, she does nothing to detract from her energy and rebellious nature. An eloquent portrait of a strong woman, and an equally eloquent portrait of an era.
Ultimina, 86, lives alone in a Tuscany farming country, she looks back on a tough life in which men have always been the boss. But that hasn’t quelled her energy and rebellious nature one bit.
PerSo Cinema Italiano
Several years ago, I made a documentary about a pair of twins, farmers, who were my neighbours at Casa Volpi, in the Tuscan countryside where I live. During the filming, a curious and vivacious elderly lady, also a neighbour, would often walk into our shots. Joyful, ironic and alert, she always had a story to tell. Her bright voice was effusive and animated as a river. She was clearly a protagonist. That is how I began being friends with Ultimina. This film grew out of my desire to learn more about her. Filming Ultimina would be a way of getting to know her, of getting to know each other. As soon as we could, with a crew of three people, we were in her home, filming and listening to her. Gathering her stories so as not to lose them to oblivion.
I wanted to collect her stories as if they were intimate confessions. I allowed her to share her tales freely, moving from one subject to another as in a long sleepless night of revelations. While editing I wove the stories into one fluid tale, allowing the spectator to spend real time with Ultimina.
Her stories, and spirited memories, are the feminine voice of a rural world that is disappearing. Testimony of a life with no comforts or education, marked by the rhythm of seasons and harvests; a world where it was hard to be born a woman.
Jacopo QUADRI (1964, Italy) studied at film school in Rome. As an editor, he won several prizes and worked on films by Bernardo Bertolucci, Gianfranco Rosi, Mario Martone, Paolo Virzì, Marco Bechis, Zhang Yuan, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and many others. He directed various short films and, together with Mario Martone, made the full-length documentary Un posto al mondo (2000). After the death of his father Franco Quadri,he inherited his publishing house Ubulibri, specialised in books about theatre. With that heritage, Quadri embarked on making a series of documentaries about theatre, of which La scuola d’estate (2014) was the first, followed by Il paese dove gli alberi volano (2015). For his third feature length documentary, Lorello and Brunello, he received the Cipputi Award and the Special Jury Mention at the Torino Film Festival in 2017. Ultimina (2020) was selected in competition at IDFA, Amsterdam and won the Corso Salani Prize at Trieste Film Festival in 2021.
Statici 1 (1991, short), Statici 2 (1993, short), Statici 3 (1996, short), Statici 5 (1997, short), Statici (1997, short), Voci distanti dal mare (Saharawi) (1997, doc, co-dir), La terra trema (1998, TV, co-dir), Un posto al mondo (2000, doc, co-dir), Marisa (2000, short), La scuola d’estate (2014, doc), Il paese dove gli alberi volano (2015, doc, co-dir), Lorello e Brunello (2017, doc), Ultimina (2020, doc)